ATASCOSITA, Texas – According to authorities, alcohol and speed are to blame for the crash that led to the deaths of two Atascocita High School students Wednesday in northeast Harris County.
Investigators said 17-year-old Jaggar Smith was driving a 2008 Nissan Altima with two 16-year-old girls in the car when he lost control in the 18300 block of Timber Forest Drive and slammed into several trees. The impact split the vehicle in two and killed Chloe Robison, who was in the back seat.
Salma Gomez, who was in the front seat, was taken to a hospital, where she died.
Both girls were incoming juniors at Atascocita High School.
Smith, a student at Kingwood High School, had been drinking, deputies said. He suffered minor injuries.
"It's just very tragic and we see this way, way too often, especially seeing that alcohol was a factor," Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.
Deputies said all three teens were wearing seat belts.
Witnesses told investigators that Smith was going 70 to 80 mph in a 40 mph zone.
"You can't be out here drinking and driving and just wreck and kill people," said Thomas Sutter. "Just getting that call in the middle of the night that your daughter may or may not live or your son is out and he's hurt people -- it's just sad for everybody."
Friends of the girls gathered at the site of the crash, where they left flowers and consoled each other.
"I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to believe the news,” said Victoria Chavez, a friend of the girls. “I was, like Momma, you're lying. Don't tell me that.”
Robison, who died at the scene, was remembered for her joy.
“She was just always happy,” said Caebra Rios. “She was always joyful and every time I went to the classroom, it seemed like she never had a bad day.”
Gomez, who died at the hospital, was known for her tennis abilities.
“She was just an amazing person and a great girl,” said Alex Auzenne. “She won numerous awards for school. She and her doubles partner, they had a really great year. They won a lot of golds.”
Smith is charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter, officials said. He posted bond and was released from jail later Wednesday.
The accident is a sobering reminder of what can happen when someone drinks and drives.
“Drinking and driving -- you think all that wouldn't happen to us. This happens to one of our closest friends,” said Chavez.
Atascocita High School said it will have trained counselors on campus from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. A table will be set up in the school rotunda for flowers and cards.
A memorial grows for the Atascocita High School students killed in a suspected drunken driving crash on July 25, 2018.
The Woodlands Church, across from the school, held a service from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday for students and families to reflect and pray.
The Smith family released the following statement:
“We are all saddened and beyond dismayed by the events that have placed us in a position to make this statement. Our family extends our most sincere and heartfelt prayers and condolences to all of the victims in this tragedy. Two beautiful young lives were needlessly ended, and another young life.
"We are all in shock and under a fog of confusion due to this event. We are gratified by the public comments made by other students that show Jaggar as we know him was irreparably altered forever. Three families have been completely upended and will never be the same as a result of what has occurred.
"We have been and will continue to cooperate with the authorities conducting the investigation.
"We ask the public and media to please extend privacy, both to the victims and to our own family, as all of us try process this tragic event, and begin the process of grieving, eventually healing, and hopefully recovering at some point in the distant future.”
Here's the letter that Atascocita High School sent to parents:
"Dear Atascocita High School Families and Staff,
"I am writing to share some very sad news regarding two of our Atascocita High School students, Chloe Robison and Salma Gomez. This morning, we learned that both students, incoming juniors, passed away due to an auto accident.
"Grief is a deeply personal emotion. Your support will mean more than you can know to the families as they deal with this terrible loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
"Please know that we have trained counselors to assist anyone who may need support. Counselors are available at Atascocita High School from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, Wednesday, July 25, and tomorrow, Thursday, July 26."
The Woodlands Church, across from AHS, has a regular service tonight but will have time to reflect and pray for students and families impacted in any way by this tragedy. Doors will open at 5:00, service from 6:00 - 7:00.— The Atascocita HS (@HumbleISD_AHS) July 25, 2018
We encourage all to come to AHS to remember together. Please join us today and tomorrow from 10:00 to 4:00. No one is alone at a time like this. Come in the front.— The Atascocita HS (@HumbleISD_AHS) July 25, 2018