PAGEDALE • Dozens of friends of Felicia Williams and her family turned out Monday night to light candles and hug the mother whose children were run over three nights earlier by a pickup police say was driven by a man with a history of driving while intoxicated.
Marilyn Johnson was among those who came to the scene of the crash that killed Trayeshon Williams, 4, and injured his brother, Jayshard Conner, 10, to show her support for the distraught mother.
“This is really devastating for the family, especially for the grandfather and the mother,” Johnson said. “She’s not understanding why and is trying to keep her sanity. I told her only God can take her through.”
Family members have said the boys were home with their grandfather, Willie Williams, when they left to go to a nearby store. They were hit crossing St. Charles Rock Road.
Prosecutors charged Ricky R. Weeden, 54, of the 4900 block of San Francisco Avenue in St. Louis, on Monday with leaving the scene of the fatal crash. Weeden was jailed in St. Louis County in lieu of $50,000 cash bail.
The Missouri Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate the crash, authorities say. The case is expected to be presented to a St. Louis County grand jury for additional potential charges.
The full extent of Weeden’s criminal record wasn’t immediately clear, but court records show he has been convicted of DWI at least five times, and a man with the same name was involved in a fatal crash in 1983. Authorities could not immediately confirm that the driver in that crash was the same man.
After the Highway Patrol stopped him in 1996, Weeden was charged with felony DWI as a “persistent offender,” meaning he had either had two DWI convictions before that or had been involved in an alcohol-related crash that had injured or killed someone. Weeden was sentenced to serve 90 days in the St. Louis County Jail in June 1996.
The next year Weeden was charged with misdemeanor DWI after St. Louis airport police pulled him over. He was sentenced to serve 11 months in jail later that year.
St. Louis County police stopped him at Halls Ferry Road and Hecht Drive on June 5, 2003. He was again charged with felony DWI for being a persistent offender. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years’ probation and 120 days of ‘shock time,” plus substance abuse treatment.
Weeden’s probation was revoked in 2007 and he was sentenced to serve four years in prison. It’s unclear how long he served, but it wasn’t four years, because he was free again on April 1, 2010, when Wellston police stopped him at Page Boulevard and Hodiamont Avenue. He was charged with misdemeanor DWI and pleaded guilty in August 2011. He was sentenced to 90 days in the county jail, with credit for time already served.
It wasn’t clear why he was sometimes charged with a felony as a persistent offender and other times was charged with misdemeanors. St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch could not be reached for comment.
The man charged in 1983 with careless and imprudent driving in a crash in St. Louis that killed two people shared Weeden’s name. The ages also match, and public records show an address connecting the Weeden charged Monday to the man involved in the 1983 crash.
In that crash, a driver identified in a Post-Dispatch story as Ricky Weeden, then 25, broadsided another car on Goodfellow Boulevard near Interstate 70. Doris A. Jones of Moline Acres died that night. Avance Wilson of St. Louis died the next day. Two other men were injured. Authorities initially indicated they would seek more serious charges, though there was no indication in Post-Dispatch stories at the time that alcohol was involved.
Weeden has also been in trouble in Illinois. In 1995, he was charged in St. Clair County with driving on a suspended or revoked license, carrying an alcoholic beverage as a driver and improper passing. He pleaded guilty.
He also has a number of charges related to driving without a valid license in Missouri.
The crash Friday night in Pagedale happened as the two boys tried to cross St. Charles Rock Road at Salerno Drive, the patrol said. The pickup was heading west and took off after hitting the boys.
The patrol said Trayeshon died at the scene. Jayshard was taken to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where his condition was upgraded Monday to good.
The 2001 Chevrolet Silverado that police believe was involved in the hit-and-run was found Sunday at Weeden’s home in St. Louis, the patrol said. Weeden was arrested in St. Louis County. Authorities said Monday night that he had been persuaded to turn himself in.
On Monday night, Felicia Williams, 30, was among those gathered for the candlelight vigil with a crowd of friends, churchgoers and others just feet away from where the boys were hit.
Williams was too emotional to speak.
Christal McConnell, a parent liaison at Lucas Crossing Elementary, where Jayshard is in fifth grade, brought her two children, who were friends with the boys.
McConnell’s son Caleb, 4, didn’t understand, she said, but he wanted to bring his giant stuffed frog for Trayeshon. It has the Lord’s Prayer written on it. The boys went to preschool together at the Normandy Early Childhood Center. Caleb’s big sister, Jayla McConnell, 9, who brought her soft toy duck and teddy bear for Trayeshon’s memorial, said her little brother wanted Trayeshon to know he loved him.
Neighbor Zanya Hughes, 12, said the boys would come over to her house, play with her and her little sister and share sandwiches and drink juice.
Trayeshon’s father, Derrick Robinson, flew from Waco, Texas, to be at the vigil.
Pagedale Police Chief Steven Haynes was also there.
“We always ask why bad things happen to good people,” Haynes said. “When God does things, it’s always for a reason.”
He said he hoped that other young children would learn to not cross roads on their own, or run out, and would ask a parent to accompany them.
The night of the accident, the boys were being watched by their grandfather while their mother was working a night shift. Williams said that she and her father were raising the boys together and that they were all very close. The grandfather called Trayeshon “Buck” and had recently gone with him to a grandparents day at school.
“If I would have known Friday would be my last day with my baby, I would have hugged him and kissed him more,” Williams said in an interview Sunday. “He was so special … so cute. I just went crazy when they told me my son was gone. My poor little baby.”
Jeremy Kohler of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.