Four people are dead after a wrong-way crash on Interstate 45 late Sunday night, according to the Wilmer Police Department.
Wilmer police say a woman, identified as Francisca Fuentes, was driving a minivan northbound in the southbound lanes of the interstate when she hit an SUV head-on.
Fuentes and her two children, ages 4 and 1, were killed.
The driver of the SUV, identified as Michael Coyne, also died. Two teenage passengers in the vehicle survived but were hospitalized with serious injuries.
A teacher and coach with Palestine ISD, Coyne had taken two students to see the Dallas Maverick's playoff basketball game Sunday night. The three were returning home when they were hit.
According to a district spokeswoman, the two students lost a loved one in a crash just two weeks ago and the trip to see the Mavs game was meant to lift their spirits. The family identified the two students as cousins Rebecca Campa and Ruben Vasquez. Both are being treated at Baylor Hospital.
"Both students now have a very very long road ahead of them," said Palestine ISD Spokeswoman Larissa Loveless.
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Coyne leaves behind a wife and a 1-year-old daughter.
Coyne's mother, Deborah Coyne, said the loss of her son is surreal.
"It’s kind of like a really bad dream that you can’t wake up from," she said. "It’s just so hard to imagine going anywhere and he’s not going to be there."
She tells NBC 5 she wasn't surprised to hear her son died doing something good for his students.
"He was all about building other people up, making them feel better, doing whatever he could to make a situation better," said Deborah Coyne.
Loveless said he had a unique ability to connect with students and everyone he met.
"When you hear parents talk about him they often use the word inspirational," Loveless said. "He was a very passionate individual and lived life to the fullest and encouraged everyone around him to do that."
Loveless said the district will be exploring ways they can help the two injured students and coach Coyne's family.
Wilmer police said the investigation into the crash is ongoing and they're working to determine if alcohol or drugs played a role in Fuentes going the wrong way.
"Any time you have an accident with fatalities it’s tragic but when they’re young children – really young children involved it makes it that much more horrific and painful for all involved," said Wilmer Police Chief Victor Kemp.
Wilmer police said they were first alerted to a wrong-way driver just before 11:45 p.m. Sunday. Ferris police contacted them to report a driver headed northbound in the southbound lanes of I-45 in Ellis County. At least two other vehicles swerved out of the way to avoid a collision, causing crashes on the interstate.
Ferris police were attempting to locate the car as it continued north into Dallas County but were unable to catch the driver before they collided with the SUV head-on at Mars Road in Wilmer a few minutes later.
"We work the scenes as they show up and do our best investigation to do justice for the families that are involved. And above all, our deepest condolences go to everyone who's involved in this in this accident -- and we'll do our best to do a thorough investigation to make sure all questions are answered," said Sgt. Richard Hernandez, with the Wilmer Police Department.
The southbound lanes of I-45 were closed during the crash investigation.