Thursday, Oct. 19, 2006



  Fiery Head-On Crash Takes Four Lives
Canton, Mabank and Kemp Communities Mourn; Infant, Kindergartener and Teacher Dead
By Julie Vaughan
Monitor Correspondent

PHALBA-A Canton teacher, his infant son and 5-year-old daughter were killed in a fiery head-on collision late Friday afternoon on State Highway 198, on the infamous Phalba curve.
Department of Public Safety Trooper Clint Pirtle is still investigating the accident that took the life of Wallace Richard Rike, 33, Mabank, his daughter Macy Marie, and 18-day-old son Caleb Daniel, and driver of the second car, Justin M. Reller, 28, Kemp.
Speed was a factor, Pirtle said.
"Justin Reller was recorded as an aggressive, high-speed driver," Pirtle said, adding that earlier reports of a high-speed driver in the area were received by the Canton Police Department and the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Department.
Pirtle spoke to the man who called in the accident at the scene. 
"Reller had tailgated him (the caller) and his family, and then disappeared from sight," Pirtle said, adding the witness thought Reller was driving in excess of 100 mph.
"Then he saw a fireball in the distance, and heavy black smoke," Pirtle said.
Speed caused Reller to drift across the centerline in his 2005 red Chevrolet Monte Carlo as he was trying to negotiate the curve to the right. He crashed head-on into a northbound 2005 white Nissan Quest van, driven by Rike, Pirtle said.
Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Ronnie Daniell pronounced Rike, his two children, and Reller dead at the scene. 
Known to many as Rick Rike, Rike was a speech teacher, debate teacher and UIL coordinator at Canton High School, where a memorial service was held Tuesday. He is survived by his wife Abby, the daughter of Ron and Billie Day of Mabank. Ron Day is a Trinity Valley Community College trustee. Rike's brother-in-law, Daren Day, owns Day Tire in Mabank.
Pirtle said speed calculations and other details are to be determined during the accident reconstruction portion of the investigation. 
Pirtle was assisted at the accident scene by Troopers Scott Smith, Michael Johnson, Josh Sneed, Odie Phillips and Cpl. Terry Jackson, along with Kaufman County Trooper Chad Walker, the Mabank Police Department, the Canton Fire Department and the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office.


Man Dies in Early Morning Wreck
Monitor Staff Reports
CANTON-Authorities are investigating a fatal accident that occurred early Tuesday morning on State Highway 198 involving an 18-wheeler.
Department of Public Safety Trooper Scott Smith said the driver of the 18-wheeler, John Michael Bailey, 31, Canton, had pulled out of Van Zandt County Road 2307 at around 6:35 a.m. 
"He was turning left on SH 198, and got stuck," Smith said. 
The trailer was blocking both lanes of traffic at the time.
Troy Lee Cooley, 62, of Gun Barrel City was driving a 1994 red GMC pickup north on SH 198, and came along less than a minute later on the straightaway and plowed into the trailer.
Cooley was pronounced dead at the scene.
Smith said the 18-wheeler had reflective devices.


Battle of the Bands

Courtesy Photo/Jim McKee
Eustace High School band members strut their stuff during the 15th annual Cedar Creek Marching Festival Saturday at Mabank's Panther Stadium. Thirteen bands, ranging from Class A to 4A, competed for the trophy, won by the Canton High School Eagle band. Kemp and Malakoff high school bands also competed in the all-day festival.


Burn Bans Lifted
Henderson County Joins Kaufman, Van Zandt in Lifting Burn Ban
Monitor Staff Reports
TRI-COUNTY-Burn bans in all three counties are now lifted - for at least a week.
Henderson County commissioners agreed to lift the ban for one week, over the objections of the fire marshal and County Judge David Holstein, following heavy rains Sunday and Monday.
Holstein urged the use of caution and common sense, since the 14-day outlook calls for high winds, which can cause a rapid dry-out and increase the drought index.
Henderson County will continue to consider the ban on a week-to-week basis.
Kaufman and Van Zandt counties continued to allow burning, as they have lately.


Scarecrow Welcomes Thanksgiving

Monitor Photo/Linda K. Holt
A stroll down Scarecrow Trail was just one of the many features of this year's Fall Festival at the East Texas Arboretum. Scarecrows dressed to impress or scare you were sponsored by various businesses and school classrooms.