DPS: Distracted driving led to crash that killed Bellaire High student, 2 others
Prayers, tears and broken hearts. Several dozen friends and family members of 17-year-old Brittanie Johnson gathered outside her mother's southwest Houston home for a vigil in her memory.
Johnson was one of three Houston teens killed in a car accident in Corpus Christi Sunday returning from a spring break trip to South Padre Island. For the former Bellaire High School student's mother it was hard for reality to set in when she got the news about her daughter's death.
"I couldn't even believe it," says her mother Traci Blount. "I just kept being in denial like she was going to call, she was going to call. It was real."
Also killed in the crash were sisters 19-year-old Brianna Robinson and 17-year-old Jade Robinson. They died when the driver of their car, 18-year-old Shelby Coleman, lost control, distracted by the GPS on her cellphone according to investigators. Coleman, the only survivor of the crash, remains in critical condition in a hospital.
"I always said Brianna was an all American. She was truly gifted," said Stacey Robinson, Jade and Brianna's mother. "Any room [Jade] walked in, she commanded. She was a leader."
Johnson, 18, and the driver, Shelby Coleman, 18, were taken to the hospital in critical condition. Johnson later died. Coleman, the sole survivor, is a senior at Lamar High School.
The group had been celebrating spring break on South Padre Island, officials said.
Sgt. Nathan Brandley of the Texas Department of Public Safety said on Monday that the use of a cellphone for GPS was a factor in the crash as the teens headed home from spring break. The tragedy comes just days before Distracted Driving Awareness month.
MOTHER OF JADE AND BRIANNA: "Remember them with love. We had hard times sometimes but we truly loved each other." pic.twitter.com/JueVWjKjRx— Brandon Walker (@KPRC2Brandon) March 21, 2016
Police said Coleman lost control of the car and collided with an 18-wheeler on the other side of the road. The driver of the 18-wheeler was not injured.
We are saddened by the loss of Jade Robinson and her sister in a tragic car accident today. Please keep Jade and her family in your prayers— Bellaire Volleyball (@BellaireVball) March 21, 2016
Jade played for the Bellaire High volleyball team. Her mother said she and her older sister, Brianna, were inseparable.
"Always remember them together and remember the love that they had fid one a other," their mother said.
According to the team's Twitter, counselors were on hand Monday at Bellaire High School for students in need.
Volleyball player meeting: 7:30 tomorrow morning, Bellaire Gym. Counselors will be available, Coach Martin will provide additional info then— Bellaire Volleyball (@BellaireVball) March 21, 2016
A GoFundMe page has been set up for those who would like to help Robinson family.
We pray God will give Jade's mother & father strength to get through the pain of losing two daughters. Player meeting 7:30 AM tomorrow, gym.— Bellaire Volleyball (@BellaireVball) March 21, 2016
A GoFundMe page has also been set up for Brittanie Johnson. A vigil and balloon release was held for Johnson at 8 p.m. Monday at 12239 Ormandy Drive in southwest Houston.
Andre Williams, a friend of the girls, says he hung out with them in South Padre and left for Houston just five minutes after they did. He says he drove by the accident scene about an hour after the crash.
"Once we took a detour and then I actually realized it was a white car (and) I was like, 'Please don't let that be them,' Williams recalled. "That's when I seen like an hour later. RIP to Brianna and Jade. I didn't even know Brittanie was dead."
Despite heavy hearts, Brittanie Johnson's family is thankful for Monday's vigil.
"It's not for a happy party. But it's still for love and memory and for support," her sister Jazyme said. "I just feel love and supported."
According to www.distraction.gov, 46 states ban text messages for all drivers. In Texas, new drivers are banned from texting or using their cell phone during their first 12 months driving in the state. Every driver is banned from handheld cell phone use or texting in school zones.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
A vigil for Jade and Brianna Robinson will be held Friday at 630 p.m. at Glenshire Park, 12100 Riceville School Road.
A charity event for all three victims will be Tuesday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Butler Stadium field house, 13755 Main St.