Victim's family seeks justice after ETX man arrested - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Victim's family seeks justice after ETX man arrested

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Justin Echols (Source: Upshur County Jail) Justin Echols (Source: Upshur County Jail)
SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

The man who left the scene of a wreck on an ATV is behind bars.

Justin Echols was arrested Monday afternoon. He is charged with an accident involving personal injury or death, a third degree felony.

MIchele Ann Allen of Harleton was in the truck that Echols crashed Wednesday on County Road 217 in Smith County.

Echols then left the scene on an ATV. He wrecked again and fled on foot.

Michele Allen leaves behind three children - a daughter who turns 11 on Wednesday and two sons, ages 8 and 6 - and her ex-husband says they are "coping."

"We were together for ten years. I told her I'd love her 'til the day she died," Jonathan Allen said.

For the last five days, Allen has been trying to help his three kids deal with their mother's death.

"The kids, they're coping with it. They've got a lot of emotions - they're angry, they're sad, they're happy - and I just kind of tell them, you know, it's ok. Your mama is in heaven now. She's an angel, she's watching over you," he said.

But one thing has been difficult for Allen and the kids to understand - the fact that Echols left the scene on an ATV moments after the wreck happened last Wednesday - leaving Michele to die alone.

Just moments before we conducted this interview, Allen learned that Echols had turned himself into authorities Monday afternoon.

"It's overwhelming. I'm angry, I'm happy, I'm sad. My eight-year-old son made the comment, he looked at me and he goes, 'Daddy, if he had just called 911 before he left, I could have at least told him thank you,'" said Allen. "She didn't deserve to die the death she had, but to leave her there like she was some kind of dog, nobody deserves that. She didn't deserve that. Especially a mother of three beautiful babies, she did not deserve to die like that and didn't deserve to be left like that."

Allen says he now hopes the justice system "does its part."

"I hope that justice is served. I hope that my children get the closure that they need, that they deserve," he said.

As he tries to help his children remember - and honor - the mother now watching over them from heaven.

"Our kids were our world. You couldn't ask for a better mother. she was loving, she was kind, nurturing," Allen said. "She was always there."

Michele Allen's family is holding a memorial service this Friday at 11 a.m. at the Harleton Baptist Church.

Echols is being held in the Upshur County Jail on $250,000 bond.

Related stories: Manhunt ongoing after fatal crash on Smith County road

Friends remember ETX mother killed in crash; authorities seeking driver

Echols arrested in accident that killed ETX woman

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