Two members of a Fairfax County family were killed and four injured -- one critically -- early yesterday when their car collided with an auto being chased by police in Houston.
The crash occurred about 2 a.m. on a Houston freeway as the Lee Williams Sr. family was driving to Kansas where three Williams sons were to begin the college year. It claimed the lives of Lee Williams Jr., 21, and his mother, Wanda, 43, and left Williams Sr. in critical condition. Three Williams children -- Mike, 17, Gale, 15, and Lewanda, 12 -- were injured less seriously.
The accident was the second tragedy to strike the Williamses' neighborhood in the Kings Park West subdivision in three days. On Monday Jon Walsh, a 16-year-old Robinson High School athlete, collapsed and died on the first day of football practice.
Members of the Williams family, including Lee Jr., were friends of Walsh. The only family member to escape injury in the collision, Duane, 19, was a running back on last year's Robinson football team and Walsh, an offensive lineman, blocked for him.
Yesterday's accident occurred when the Williams car was struck by another car that was trying to elude police during a 70-mile-an-hour chase. The driver of the other car, Jesse Reyes, 26, also was killed in the collision.
The incident began, Houston police said, when they tried to stop Reyes for speeding in the city's downtown. Police said Reyes, in trying to escape police, ran a red light and then entered an exit ramp of Interstate 10.
Meanwhile, the Williamses were just pulling out of a filling station, where Lee Jr. had taken over the wheel from Mike, and continuing on their trip to Kansas, where Mike, Duane and Lee Jr. were going to college.
"Everybody was asleep except Lee, me and Lewanda, all in the front seat," Mike said in a telephone interview from Houston. "Lee said, 'Look at this,' and ahead of us, about two lanes to the left, was this car coming in our direction. All of a sudden, the other car turned right toward us. My brother swerved, then he swerved in the opposite direction. But it was too late. He hit our left fender with his left fender.
"When I saw what was happening, I threw myself in front of my little sister, and that's when my head went through the windshield. I couldn't see, I had glass in my eyes."
Mike said that no members of his family were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.
The Williams family had lived on Gainsborough Drive, only about a block from the Walsh family, until a week ago, when they moved to a smaller town house on Provincetown Court, also in Kings Park West. Mike said the family made the move because only two of the children, Lewanda and Gale, would still be at home.
In their old neighborhood, friends were still grieving over Jon Walsh's death when they heard of the accident.
"I pray to God this will pass," said Dan Krafsig, 18, a friend of the Williams brothers and Walsh.
"He got along with everybody," Krafsig said of Lee Jr. "He was athletic and talented in music. Give him any instrument and he could learn it in a week."
Mrs. Williams had recently started a new job as a collector at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Lee was returning to Wichita State University in Kansas, where Mike was also enrolling as a freshman. Duane was headed for Hutchinson College, in Hutchinson, Kan., where he was entering his freshman year too.
Lee Williams Sr., who was listed in critical but stable condition at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, is a civil rights investigator with the U.S. Treasury.
Lewanda was hospitalized with a broken pelvis and Gale also was being treated for pelvic injuries. Mike suffered cuts around his eyes but was released after treatment.
The Williamses had just left Baton Rouge, La., where they had visited their oldest child, Diana Mulmore.