Gospel singer among 2 killed in NE Harris Co. crash

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Two people were killed Friday morning in a major crash in northeast Harris County that may have been caused by a lost load of wet concrete in the road, authorities said.

One of the victims was LaTonya Earl, a gospel singer who was well-known in the baptist and gospel communities, according to The Church at Bethel's Family pastor Walter August.

The second victim has been identified as 19-year-old Selvin Maldonado Palacios.

The accident happened around 5:30 a.m. in the 15400 block of Old Humble Road, just north of Beltway 8.

One vehicle was northbound on Old Humble Road when it hit wet concrete in the road that had spilled from a concrete mixer truck, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office. The driver lost control, crossed the median, and slammed head-on into a southbound vehicle. It wasn't clear which vehicle lost control, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

The driver of the concrete mixer truck had just left a cement mixing plant nearby and had made a U-turn on Old Humble Road when the truck's drum started dumping wet cement onto the road, according to deputies.

A trail of concrete extended across the road where the crash happened and a mixer truck was seen parked nearby.

Deputies believe that Earl and Palacios died instantly in the crash.

Earl was an award winning gospel singer according to her website. She was also the worship director at The Church at Bethel's Family in southwest Houston, where she served for 15 years.

Pastor Walter August Jr. of The Church at Bethel's Family said the loss of Earl is the greatest the church has ever experienced in their 25 years.

"She has a servant heart," August said. "One of the easiest things to remember her by is just her natural smile."

He posted a video to the church's Facebook page early Friday morning letting them know the heartbreaking news, then another one on Sunday.

"I shouldn't share this with people. I don't want to minimize others who have passed on. But, this is the greatest loss that this church have experienced in its history," said August.

"We've buried hundreds of people. But none like this one."

A funeral service for Earl will be held at Bethel's Place Empowerment Center on 12660 Sandpiper St., on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 10 a.m. The wake will be held on Friday, Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m.

Lattimore Materials Co. sent ABC13 the following statement:

"The safety of our employees, contractors, visitors, as well as the communities in which we live and work, is our top priority. We express our sincere condolences to the families of the two drivers who have died. The investigation of this matter is ongoing, in close cooperation with local authorities. Until the investigation is complete, we aren't able to provide any further details."

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