A multi-car crash claimed the lives of a Houston father and his two young children late Friday during a traffic slow-down in a Beltway construction zone.
Heywood Freeman and his children – ages 4 and 6 – were killed instantly when a speeding pickup annihilated their small car in a chain-reaction crash.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Freeman’s brother Donald, who heard of his younger sibling’s death just hours after driving by the scene on his way to work.
The seven-vehicle pileup happened around 10:10 p.m. in the 4100 block of the North Sam Houston Parkway near John F. Kennedy Boulevard, according to the Houston Police Department.
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“They were coming to a stop because of the traffic congestion,” spokesman John Cannon said.
All of the vehicles were headed west in the same lane when a blue Ford F-250 pickup traveling at high speed crashed into Freeman’s silver Chevy. The pickup driver – who may have been going as fast as 90 mph – tried hitting the brakes, leaving a long skid mark before ramming into the family’s car.
The collision triggered a chain reaction involving five other vehicles, instantly crushing the Chevy and pushing it into a Chevy Tahoe. The Tahoe overturned and swiped at least two other vehicles one lane over.
Freeman – along with his 6-year-old son Heywood Jr. and 4-year-old daughter Haley – died at the scene. All three were wearing seatbelts and both children were in safety seats, but it wasn’t enough to save them.
A black Chevy Tahoe, a black Toyota Camry, a gray Acura and blue Toyota Tundra also were involved in the crash.
Some of the injured were transported to area hospitals. Others involved in the multi-car crash did not seek medical treatment and stayed on the scene to give statements, according to Capt. Megan Howard of HPD’s night command.
“We have our crash reconstructionists on scene,” Howard said. “They’re taking detailed measurements using 3D scanners. And that’ll help paint a better picture.”
The driver of the F-250 was evaluated at the scene and did not appear under the influence, Cannon said.
“He did consent to a blood draw, which is standard in fatality accidents,” Cannon added. “No signs of intoxication were found on any of the drivers in the crash.”
A lifelong Houstonian, Freeman was a Kashmere High School graduate and football player who stayed in town to start a family. He worked as a supervisor at H-E-B for more than two decades and was a religious man, his brother said. But most of all, he loved his role as a father.
“He loved his children; he died with his children,” Donald Freeman said Saturday. “That was his heart, his children.”
As news of the Freemans’ deaths spread online, friends and family shared their grief.
“God is going to have to help me with this one,” wrote Andrenette Clifton. “My heart hurts and I can’t stop crying.”