Texas teacher accused of driving 117 mph in crash that killed teen

According to police reports, 24 year-old Rickala Chaffold was allegedly driving at a speed of 117 mph on a Texas highway

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A Forney, Texas teacher has been charged with manslaughter following a fatal hit and run that occurred in February. According to police reports, 24 year-old Rickala Chaffold was driving at a speed of 117 mph seconds before getting into a crash that killed one motorcyclist and severely injured another, PEOPLE reports. 

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Chaffold was driving a 2015 Mercedes-Benz on interstate highway 635, also called the LBJ TEXpress, when she made contact with a group of motorcyclists riding ahead of her. She hit 16-year-old Atreyu “Trey” Gowen from Mesquite, Texas who was reported dead at the scene. An obituary for Gowen described him as “a smart and proud young man with a bright future ahead of him cut too untimely short and will be missed by all.”

Former Forney high school teacher Rickala Chaffold (Credit: InForney)

Injured in the crash was 28-year-old Dallas resident Paul Arnett. Arnett was hospitalized and started a GoFundMe page following the accident, which Gowen’s family donated to.

Victims of negligent drivers must protect their rights and even hire an accomplished car wreck lawyer to handle their case. The services of an auto accident attorney will also be needed for the victim’s proper compensation.

Based on the time and distance travelled, investigators were able to estimate Chaffold’s speed using video surveillance, InForney reports. The motorcyclists were riding at a speed of 70 mph, according to police reports.

In March, Chaffold was arrested at Forney High School where she had worked since August 2020, according to district officials.

“Allegedly, a staff member was involved in an auto accident that occurred off-campus and after hours. Upon learning of the incident and charges, the person was immediately placed on administrative leave,” Forney school district spokeswoman Kristin Zastoupil told inForney

It is unclear whether Chaffold was intoxicated or had other impairments that could have contributed to the crash. 

“It seems as though authorities are taking action against the speeding driver in this matter, which seems just if her actions took a young life on the road that day,” wrongful death attorney, Michael Grossman wrote in a blog post. “During the course of the investigation that led to that arrest, I just hope police asked quite a few questions not just about what happened, but also why.”

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Chaffold’s bond at the Dallas County jail is $15K. The grand jury who indicted Chaffold said she was “operating a motor vehicle at an unsafe speed and a speed not prudent for the conditions,” CBS DFW reports. A criminal trial date has not been reported yet. 

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