Police to reinvestigate fatal Deer Park crash
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- The family of an 18-year-old killed 10 months ago in a wreck in Deer Park is still waiting for answers. Police investigated the crash, but now officials say that investigation was flawed.
The officer in question is a certified reconstruction specialist. It's what he's trained to do, and yet Deer Park police say he never even came close to finishing a fatal accident investigation, which means the victim's family still has no idea why she died.
Even months later, it's hard for DeAndra Bell to comprehend that her little sister is no longer here.
"I can't even say I miss her because I'm still in shock that she's gone," she said.
Eighteen-year-old Andreaka Bell had plans.
"She even had dreams for herself," DeAndra Bell said.
She wanted to go to the University of Texas and earn an accounting degree, but on August 14, she took the wrong ride home. The 18-year-old girl who was driving lost control along West Pasadena in Deer Park, hit a curb and crashed. Bell was ejected and died.
"It's kind of like a slap in the face," said the victim's brother, Deandre Bell.
Bell's brother and sister just learned that 10 months later the investigation is still not complete. In fact, it never went anywhere. Last week, they went to the police department demanding answers and got an apology.
"Yes, I apologized, we messed up," Lt. Wade Connor said.
When Connor started digging into the report, he found all kinds of problems.
"I'm looking to find out where our department failed in getting the adequate reports put together," he said.
First, he says there were clerical issues, but we've also learned the investigating officer never interviewed witnesses. And most importantly, a blood-alcohol test on the underage driver, who witnesses say had been drinking, was never done.
"But if the driver was drinking, you'll never know?" we asked Connor.
"You're correct," he said.
The officer has been placed on administrative leave and department is starting the accident investigation over.
"This is an embarrassment," Connor said.
After months of questions, Bell's siblings are satisfied the department is finally doing something.
"Maybe some justice the long run will be taken," Deandre Bell said.
We are not naming the driver because she hasn't been charged. Lt. Conner says it's too early to say why the officer didn't follow through. He says it is possible criminal charges could still be filed, if this new investigation warrants one.
Bells' brother and sister are getting a lot of support in their quest for justice. There's an online petition at change.org that 1,500 people have signed.
local, jessica willey
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