By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – Austin Cline Catoe, 18 years of age, with a Crockett address has been arrested and charged with three felony counts in connection with a June wreck in which two people were killed and a third severely injured. Additional charges may be filed.
In July, a Houston County Grand Jury handed down eight felony indictments against Catoe for his involvement in the June 26 wreck on the outskirts of Kennard. Catoe was indicted on two counts of intoxication manslaughter, two counts of manslaughter, three counts of aggravated assault and one count of intoxication assault.
According to initial reports, Department of Public Safety troopers were dispatched to a location four miles south of Kennard, at approximately 4 a.m. on June 26, in reference to a one vehicle rollover wreck.
When the law enforcement officials arrived at the crash scene on FM 357, it was determined a 2016 Chevrolet pickup was headed northbound when it left the roadway, rolled over and struck several trees.
Catoe was identified as the driver of the vehicle and transported to Houston County Medical Center where he was treated and released.
Precinct One Justice of the Peace Clyde Black pronounced Mariaah Robin Lopez, 17, deceased at the scene of the wreck at 5 a.m. Brendan Lee Galloway was transported to Houston County Medical Center but was pronounced dead at approximately 6 a.m.
A fourth passenger in the vehicle, 19 year-old Haley Michelle Henry from Kennard, was transported to a Houston area hospital for further treatment.
A supplement to the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (Cr-3) filed by Texas Department of Safety (DPS) Trooper Bryan J. Becton stated, “Unit 1 (vehicle driven by Catoe) was traveling northbound on FM 357. Unit 1 came to a curve in the road. Unit 1 was traveling at a high rate of speed. The driver (Catoe) was unable to negotiate the curve. Unit 1 traveled off the edge of the road, onto the grass. Unit 1 traveled across the grass, parallel with the road. The driver was unable to regain control, resulting in Unit 1 striking several trees and overturning.”
The crash report further stated, “As Unit 1 overturned, the three passengers were ejected, the driver was not. Besides speed being a contributing factor in the crash, evidence indicates alcohol may have been a factor as well. A blood specimen was obtained from the driver (Catoe) and sent to the DPS Laboratory, in Tyler. The results of the blood analysis revealed the driver had a blood alcohol content of 0.064, two hours after the crash occurred. The black box recorded Unit 1 to be traveling at a speed of 96 mph, five seconds before the air bags were deployed.”
Catoe was arrested on Oct. 20 and charged with two counts of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury and one count of manslaughter, according to the Houston County Sheriff’s Office Daily Jail Book-in Report.
The three charges are all considered as second degree felonies. Under Section 12.33 of the Texas Penal Code, “An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the institutional division for any term of not more than 20 years or less than two years. In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the second degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.”
Catoe’s total bond of $30,000 was posted and he was released on Oct. 20, pending trial. Other stipulations of his bond included no alcohol consumption and the installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle he drives.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.