Little Jason Allen Smith II -- or "T.J.," as his family and friends always called him -- was a mischievous 3-year-old with a smile as bright as his white-blond hair.
T.J. was the second fatality in a two-vehicle wreck that also killed a Magnolia woman late Tuesday afternoon on FM 1484 near Willis Waukegan Road.
Now, T.J.'s father and stepmother, Jason Allen Smith and Michelle Smith of Willis, are setting up a fund to help with the overwhelming medical and funeral expenses they face.
Jason Allen Smith, T.J.'s father, also was injured in the wreck, as was his 5-year-old daughter Kira, who remains in serious condition at Texas Children's Hospital.
According to Texas Department of Safety officials, Kitty Reina Allen, 45, was driving north on FM 1484 at approximately 5:15 p.m., when, for some unknown reason, her white Chevrolet pickup truck traveled over the center line.
"Her driving was very erratic, and her vehicle spun around three times in a 360-degree circle, sending it into the southbound lane," said DPS Trooper Lencho Adame, who is in charge of the accident investigation.
Allen's pickup then struck Smith's blue Dodge Intrepid, sending the car into a ditch. The pickup rolled onto its right side, trapping Allen and her passenger, Tina Louise Cunningham, 34, inside.
Allen was declared dead at the scene, while Cunningham was transported with serious injuries to Conroe Regional Medical Center and later to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston.
"It was like the truck just came out of the woods," Jason Smith said of the accident. "One minute, I had a clear vision of the road ahead. The next minute, I see this truck in front of me.
"I didn't even have time to brake."
Smith's car broadsided the pickup, then slid into the ditch.
"I got somebody to drag me out of the car. T.J. was not even moving, and his head was in Kira's lap. She was screaming, 'T.J.'s not moving,'" the father remembered.
"I had to back away, and I was saying, take care of my kids."
Jason, Kira and T.J. were wearing their seat belts, but the force of the impact broke T.J.'s neck in two places and severed his spinal cord. Paramedics with the Montgomery County Emergency Medical Services were able to bring his heartbeat back with cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but T.J.'s organs already had started failing from lack of oxygen, according to Smith.
T.J. died at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
"He was tough as nails," Smith said about T.J., called that for "Tiny Jason." "He was a little, perfect kid."
T.J. and Kira, Jason's children from an earlier marriage, recently came to live with their father and stepmother.
Jason Smith is a self-employed remodeling contractor, while Michelle is an insurance agent who works on a commission-only basis. Allen had no insurance on her pickup, and they have no money to pay for T.J.'s funeral, Jason's medical care or Kira's mounting hospital bills.
"We found out this morning that she had no insurance, and we were devastated," Michelle said.
Now in Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, Kira's most worrisome injury is a tear in the major blood vessel to her abdomen. Doctors are keeping a close eye on her condition, sending Kira for CAT scans three to four times a day -- at a cost of $3,000 each time, the Smiths said.
She is conscious but lethargic, and her parents have not told her about her brother's death.
They believe, however, that she already knows.
"In the car, Kira said, 'T.J.'s dead,' and she hasn't said anything else yet,'" Jason said.
The two children were close, especially because, while living with their mother, there were no other children nearby to play with.
Jason and Michelle have set up a fund to help with expenses. Donations can be made at any Woodforest Bank to account No. 8308264, in care of the Jason Allen Smith II and Kira Smith Benefit Fund.
"I want to thank anybody who would want to help," Jason said. "You never think you're going to lose a child."
Funeral services for T.J. Smith are set for 10 a.m. Monday at Cashner Funeral Home in Conroe, with a viewing scheduled for 3-7 p.m. Sunday. Burial will take place at Bold Springs Cemetery in Bold Springs.

©The Courier 2003