Rodeo cowboy among multiple people killed in head-on crash

LAKE SOMERVILLE, Texas (KTRK) -- A rodeo cowboy from Houston was killed over the weekend in a crash near Somerville, according to family.

Justin Richard, 37, was one of four people killed in a head-on crash on LBJ Drive.

Texas DPS troopers told ABC13 Richard was in the backseat of a car that collided with another car at 11:05 p.m. last Saturday.

Troopers say 37-year-old Ignacio Aviles was driving his F-250 south on LBJ Drive when he went off to the right side of the road and hit a guardrail, causing him to drive into the northbound lanes. Aviles' truck then hit a 2001 Chevy Suburban.

Richard, along with 18-year-old Chase Sowders, 18-year-old Jasmine Maxwell, and 6-year-old Payton Francis were all inside the Suburban and killed. Troopers say Francis was the only one that had a seat belt on.

Casey Richard calls his brother Justin an all-around cowboy.

"He's won multiple titles, all around championships," Casey said. "I hope they realize what good of a person and golden heart he had. I don't think I've ever found another one like him."

Aviles was airlifted to CHI St. Joseph Health in Bryan in critical condition. His condition has since upgraded to serious condition.

Amanda Fontenot, Chase Sowder's mother said her son was the designated driver on Saturday and was taking everyone home. Fontenot said a witness saw her son try to swerve and dodge the incoming truck that slammed into them.

"My son saw the truck coming and turned the steering wheel and went over as fast as he could to the right, so that he would take on the full blow of the impact," Fontenot said. "That's why I said he died being a hero because he took the full impact."

DPS said investigators are not ruling anything out and are still looking into whether speed or alcohol played a factor into the crash. They add the speed limit on that stretch of road is 45 mph.

Neither family has set up a GoFundMe. Fontenot warned others to not donate to a page that is being shared.

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