2 drivers, toddler die in fiery, wrong-way crash in Richmond, deputies say

RICHMOND, Texas – Fort Bend County sheriff’s deputies said they are investigating a violent, fiery crash that killed two people and a toddler in Richmond Friday.

Deputies said they received a call around 1:15 a.m. about a crash involving two vehicles that happened on Westpark Tollway near FM 1464.

According to investigators, a white Audi SUV -- with what they believe was a woman trapped inside based on the vehicle’s registration-- was fully engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived and the fire was spreading to the second vehicle, a dark-colored sedan that deputies said was going the wrong way. Both the 28-year-old man driving the sedan and the person driving the Audi were pronounced dead at the scene, deputies said.

Investigators said the 2-year-old nephew of the wrong-way driver was in the car during the crash and was not in a car seat. The toddler was given CPR as he was flown via Life Flight to the Texas Medical Center, where deputies said the child later died.

“This is a very difficult call for the first responders as well as the families involved. Our prayers go out to the victim, friends of the victim, and of course the first responders who had to deal with this call as well,” said K. Parrent, with the Community Volunteer Fire Department.

Sgt. Danny Beckworth identified the man as Kenneth Buford, 28 and the toddler as Zion Adeniji, 2. Beckworth said the driver of the Audi is still being identified because the remains were so badly burned they’re unrecognizable.

Deputies said there’s no evidence at this point in the investigation that points to intoxication but said a toxicology report is being done.

“There’s nothing that we have that would lead us to believe that it’s anything other than a horrific accident,” said Sgt. Beckworth.

Sgt. Beckworth said he was able to obtain a short video of Buford’s sedan driving eastbound in the westbound lanes of the toll road but are still trying to figure out where Buford was going and where he entered the toll road.

Wrong-way detectors are not installed on the Fort Bend County side of the Westpark Tollway but are installed on the Harris County side and run about 13.5 miles. The detection system uses LED signs that flash at wrong-way drivers while tollway signs change to warn other drivers. Sensors in the road use radar technology to spot wrong-way vehicles and alerts the toll road’s dispatch center, which contacts deputies to try to stop the driver.

Sgt. Beckworth said the detectors are something the county is discussing.