“They spent hundreds of hours around the clock to bring the suspect in this case to justice,” dad Gary Rickenbacher said after the arrest was announced.
CIPRESS, Texas. As KHOU 11 first reported on Sunday, the arrest was made in connection with a fatal crash that left the family heartbroken just days before Thanksgiving.
Precinct 4 deputies arrested 17-year-old Destin Quintero of Louisiana Sunday on charges of failing to stop and assist in a fatal crash.
Constable Mark Herman said on Monday that the charge could be upgraded to the murder of 20-year-old Caleb Rickenbacher.
“Going into this investigation, we never thought we would be able to open it, but I believe that God cared for this family, and important evidence remained in this car that led us to suspicion. Herman said.
The crucial pieces of evidence were a backpack and a “heavily damaged” cell phone that had tracked Quintero with the help of the Secret Service.
Herman said they also found Quintero’s DNA in the stolen SUV that crashed into Rickenbacher and other vehicles broken into at the hotel.
“We were literally able to track him from the hotel parking lot, where he stole the car, all the way to Grand Parkway to the crash site — in real time,” Herman said.
Rickenbacher’s parents, Melissa and Gary, attended a press conference with Herman on Monday to express their gratitude to Plot 4.
“They spent hundreds of hours — 24/7 — to bring the suspect in this case to justice,” Gary said. “We just praise God that our prayers have been answered.”
Both parents held back tears as they talked about their only child.
“We were close, we were like the Three Musketeers,” Melissa said. “Broken, broken parents who struggle to live day in and day out.”
Gary said that one of the last things he did with Caleb was Christmas decorations.
“Dad, we need to decorate big,” Caleb told him.
The family tried to celebrate the holidays to honor Caleb’s memory, but it was hard.
“Christmas was very lonely, very empty. We didn’t get much done at Christmas,” Gary said.
Their son’s girlfriend, who was badly injured in the accident, has made a physical recovery, but the emotional scars remain deep. She believes Caleb saved her life.
“It’s been almost two months since the accident, but every day I wake up and it still feels like it just happened yesterday,” Christina Diaz told KHOU 11.
“I’d give anything to have it be me instead of him.”
She and her boyfriend got matching tattoos a few months before his death. She has since added another with his birthday.
“From what I’ve read about Caleb and the people I’ve talked to, he’s a total American kid. This should never have happened, this could not be tolerated,” Herman said.
Authorities with the Harris County 4 constable’s office said the crash occurred around 4 a.m. Nov. 19 near the intersection of Cypress Rosehill and Huffmeister streets.
Rickenbacher died in a plane crash, but his actions may have saved the life of his girlfriend, Christina Diaz, 20.
“The car just came out of nowhere and he (Caleb) quickly turned the car around so he took the hit and I was fine,” Diaz said a few days after the crash. “He was the most selfless person I knew. always let me know if something happened, he would like me to be the one to pull through.”
The couple had just left a fast food restaurant for breakfast and were only a minute away from home.
Investigators said the driver was speeding, crossed the median and crashed into the couple’s car.
For Caleb’s parents, Melissa and Gary Rickenbacher, their world will never be the same again.
“There is a man there who took the life of our only child,” Melissa said.
Melissa and Gary were out of town at the time of the crash. Caleb, who was looking after them, left the house with Diaz to go out to eat.
“It shouldn’t have been him. He had something to live for,” Diaz said.
Caleb was a miracle child. His parents said they knew from their journey to infertility that their only child was special. He loved to cook, flipped houses with his father, and wanted to get a degree in criminal justice. The dreams, according to his parents, were interrupted.
Diaz has now been discharged from the hospital and is recovering from surgery. She still has staples in her stomach from her bowel rupture.