Two Port Lavaca residents, Victoria man killed in wreck (video)
Mother and son were just getting to know each other again when a fatal crash stole their chance to reunite, according to family.
Candace Valley and William Joseph Christopher Startz, 22, both of Port Lavaca, were pronounced dead at the scene Monday after their southbound Honda Pilot crossed the center line and collided with a Ford King Ranch heavy duty pickup that was traveling north on state Highway 185.
"They have been happier than they have ever been in the last six weeks since they came together and got really close," said Carolyn Jackson, Valley's aunt, about mother and son.
Eric Taylor, 39 of Victoria, the driver of the Honda Pilot was also killed. The bodies were sent to the Travis County Medical Examiner's office and identities were confirmed with dental records.
Lloyd Skalak, 76, and Barbara Skalak, 64, both of Seadrift, in the King Ranch truck, were taken to Citizens Medical Center and were then transferred by helicopter to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Barbara Skalak was listed in fair condition, and Lloyd Skalak was listed in serious condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Dillon Garcia, a pipeline construction worker, witnessed the accident near the Ineos Plant.
Garcia said he heard a pop - like a tire blowing out - and then the vehicles hit head on. He and another worker helped the Skalaks out of the truck, which flipped onto its side.
"We just heard them yelling for help, and we tore down that sunroof and started bringing them out. The car - it was already on fire. We got close to it, but it was too hot," Garcia said. "You could still see his body when it caught fire, and we had to just stand there and watch them burn. We couldn't do anything about it."
Garcia said he frantically dialed 911, but said the Honda, which caught fire immediately, exploded in just a couple of minutes.
Alicia Grant, who said she is Valley's daughter and Startz's sister, was shocked by the violent deaths.
"She (Valley) really loved us all, and the moments we had with her, she always made them count," Grant said, battling tears. She said Valley was 45.
Grant said she was close to Startz when they were kids.
"When we were younger, anywhere I went, he wanted to go with me," Grant said, laughing and remembering her younger brother.
Startz had three children and was a loving father, Jackson said.
"The biggest smile you would see on Christopher's face is when he was with his children," Jackson said.
Jackson said Startz worked on his own, painting and framing houses.
Valley lived with Jackson, she said, and Jackson can't believe Valley is gone.
"She was a vibrant person; she had a very good heart. She laughed a lot. She was a giver; she loved her kids very much," Jackson said.
The wreck remains under investigation by DPS, Bryant said.