After waiting for more than six months, Rhonda Cagle’s family and friends now have something to reassure them that progress really was being made in the criminal investigation of her May 1 traffic death.
Cagle, who had taught in the Glen Rose ISD for 31 years before her retirement in 2010, died as a result of injuries she suffered in a two-vehicle collision on S.H. Highway 67 in Johnson County.
The driver of a 2011 Kia Soul, Hunter White, was arrested on Nov. 14 and charged with a state jail felony count of criminally negligent homicide. The accident report states that Cagle’s eastbound 2009 Kia Rio struck the other Kia because White “failed to yield right of way” as he “attempted to turn onto CR (County Road) 1119.”
The speed limit at that location on Highway 67 is 65 mph.
White, a resident of Godley, was arrested at the Johnson County Adult Probation Building in Cleburne. He was released that same day after posting $5,000 bond.
Cagle’s daughter, Cristin Boulter of Cypress, said that knowing Hunter’s arrest was made is not true closure, but it does have a positive effect for the family trying to process the sudden, tragic loss.
“Yes. It feels like a little justice,” said Boulter, 30, whose brother Aaron Cagle lives in Dallas. “On behalf of our whole family, our mom was everything to us. This has changed our lives forever. We want justice for her, in the right way.”
The penalty range for a conviction on a state jail felony offense in Texas ranges from not less than 180 days in state jail, or no more than two years.
Boulter said the family has been holding onto its Christian faith throughout the ordeal.
“That’s what we’re holding onto,” said Boulter, who moved away from Somervell County three years ago, and has a husband and family of her own. “They’ve (DPS) been keeping me up to date.”
Boulter said she found that she could not dwell on what happened.
“I had to move past the accident, partly to just get through the day,” she said.
White and the three passengers in the vehicle — all students at Brazos River Charter School near Nemo in eastern Somervell County — sustained serious injuries in the crash, which occurred as they were commuting to the school at about 8 a.m. that day.
All five, including Cagle, were transported in air ambulances to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. Cagle was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Chelsea Bell, who was 16 at the time and was only able to return to school last week, suffered a brain injury and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at JPS. She has been undergoing extensive rehab work since the crash. Money has been raised to help her family with the extensive medical expenses, and she was treated by her family and friends to a welcome home party Saturday in Cleburne.
Also in the car were her brothers, Brandon Bell, 18, and Braydon Bell, 15.
Cagle, a native of Glen Rose, taught an incredible number of students here over the years, and was a beloved figure. First-year Somervell County Sheriff Alan West noted that she was his first-grade teacher.
Boulter said her mother only taught first grade one year, and the rest of her career was as a kindergarten teacher.
Boulter said that what she remembers most about her mother was “her unconditional support. She had a teacher’s heart. She was always there to love and support. She was welcoming to anyone and everyone.”
Cagle also had been a high-profile business owner, being a former co-owner of Pie Peddlers with Jean Ford — another retired GRISD teacher. Boulter said her mother and Ford were best friends, and started the business working at home on weekends while she was still teaching. Years ago, Boulter used to work at Pie Peddlers, which Cagle and Ford sold a few years ago.