A 21-year-old father of a four-month-old baby girl has died after a trailer tire flew into the windshield of the SUV he was traveling in on a Texas highway.
Clayton Vaughan was in the passenger seat of a Kia SUV driven by his girlfriend when the freak accident happened on the Katy Freeway in Houston around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The horrific accident happened when a tire came loose from a landscape-style trailer traveling on the eastbound lane and bounced across the westbound lanes. A photo of the wreckage shows the passenger side windshield completely collapsed.
The driver of the vehicle from which the tape originated failed to stop, leaving the victims, observers and law enforcement with many questions about exactly what happened.
Vaughan’s girlfriend, the mother of their four-month older daughter, is expected to be fine.
Clayton Vaughan, 21, was killed last Thursday when a loose tired man crashed into the car in which he was a passenger on a Texas highway
The Kia SUV that was a total loss when the loose tired car crashed into it on the highway
At first, deputies with the officer’s officer thought the tire came from an 18-wheeler, but after talking to more witnesses, they rejected that theory.
A witness saw the trailer tire fly off a black truck that had no license plate. The tire bounced several times before coming into contact with another truck.
He then rolled onto the HOV lane, where a white pickup hit him before bouncing over the barrier.
When it finally hit the victims’ Kia, it slammed into the windshield, sending windows flying in all directions, the hood popping up and the car spinning. The Kia swerved across all six lanes of the highway before hitting the perimeter wall.
The witness, Randrell Alexander, said the whole incident happened quickly, but that during one moment of the chaos, she was side by side with the driver of the truck that had the tire fall out.
“I know he saw it from his rear view (mirror) because he left his window down,” she said. “It happened so fast, but by the time we were next to each other, it was like he was going to stop. But I’m sure he saw what I saw, and he started to drive slowly.’
According to the officer’s office, the driver could be charged with failing to stop and render assistance, if and when found.
Whether or not the driver is charged depends on the evidence presented to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Vaughan’s uncle, Evan Richard, told a local ABC affiliate that the family hopes more witnesses will come forward in hopes of getting more answers about what happened.
“I’m not here to pass judgment,” he said. “Things happen, but it is clear that some negligence played a part in this. He was a passenger in a car that was hit by an oncoming tire.
‘What are the chances of something like this happening? (You should) know, you’re endangering lives around you, and I can’t bring him back. But I can get the message out that you can do better. The city can do better.’
Vaughan (right) with his mother and younger brother
Vaughan (left) with his aunt Priscilla Stansell and brother
The multi-lane Katy highway in Houston on which the accident occurred
Vaughan was fathering a four-month-old daughter when he died last week
Richard said his cousin’s life was taken before his time and before he had a chance to see his daughter grow up.
But Richard says Vaughan will be remembered as the loving person he was.
“He was a big old teddy bear,” he said.
“He was a young 21-year-old trying to find himself in this hectic world.”
Vaughan’s aunt, Priscilla Stansell, established one GoFundMe for funeral expenses for new cousin, as well as money to raise his now fatherless baby daughter.