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
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
Battle of the Bands
Burn Bans Lifted
Scarecrow Welcomes Thanksgiving