Friends remember ETX mother killed in crash; authorities seeking - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Friends remember ETX mother killed in crash; authorities seeking driver


A warrant has been issued for the arrest of an East Texas man who fled the scene of a fatal wreck Wednesday.

Authorities are actively pursuing Justin Lee Echols, of Diana. He's wanted on an "accident involving personal injury or death charge," which is a third degree felony.

Twenty-seven-year-old Michele Allen of Harleton was killed in the crash. She was in Echols' truck when he lost control going around a curve.

"She should be here today. It's not fair," says Niki Helton, a close friend of Michele's.

Niki met Michele a few years ago. She says they clicked instantly have been extremely close ever since.

"Our kids played t-ball together. She was just one of those people where if you needed somebody, she was going to be there," says Helton.

Michele leaves behind three young children-- an 11-year-old girl, and two sons... one eight years old and the other just six years old.

"She had a lot of people that loved her, and I don't think she knew that. The response that we have had today with friends and just the community... I wish she was here so she would know," says Helton.

Michele was killed in southeast Smith County Wednesday night. Friends say she was with Justin Lee Echols, who she'd met just a week ago, and headed to his deer lease when he lost control of the truck. Michele died at the scene. Echols took off on a four wheeler, wrecked again and fled on foot.

Locating Echols isn't just important to authorities, but to Michele's loved ones, too.

"I think it would give some people some closure just to have that. Her kids deserve it, her friends and family that love her deserve it and she deserves it," says Helton.

"She made an impact on a lot of peoples' lives. It could have just been with the smile, the bright blue eyes, batting the eyes... that's all she had to do and she knew it. She knew how to make you smile, and she's going to be missed severely," Helton adds.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice tracking dogs assisted in the attempt to locate Echols but he still has not been found. Authorities say anyone with information about Echols' whereabouts is asked to contact the Tyler DPS office at 903-939-6002. Echols bond has been set at 250,000.

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