Area man indicted for manslaughter after father dies outside vehicle with child inside

Published 12:16 am Friday, October 20, 2023

An area man who witnesses say was under the influence of alcohol when he struck another vehicle, then fled the scene as the other driver lay dying, was indicted this week.

A Jefferson County grand jury indicted Tristen Kelly Dunnam, 21, of Winnie for accident involving death and manslaughter in connection with the Aug. 12 death of Christian Michael “Crick” Sykes, 45, of Hamshire.

According to an affidavit for arrest warrant, troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety were dispatched to a two-vehicle rollover crash on Texas 73, where they found a Suburban and Silverado.

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The driver of the Silverado, identified as Dunnam, had left the scene without rendering aid to the other driver, Sykes.

A vehicle driven by a Houston woman that was not involved in the main crash struck some of the debris. She told troopers she saw Dunnam exit the Silverado and walk to her vehicle, adding he smelled of alcohol and his speech was slurred.

Dunnam reportedly left the scene in a dark-colored pickup truck.

The victim, Sykes, had been ejected and died at the scene. Justice of the Peace Ray Chesson arrived at the scene and pronounced Sykes deceased.

Sykes’ child was in the vehicle at the time of the crash and sustained minor injuries, the document read.

Law enforcement was able to track down Dunnam due to multiple work badges and identification cards in the vehicle. He was arrested the following day and has since bonded out of jail.

An indictment is not a final conviction of guilt; it is only a ruling by the grand jury that allows the district attorney’s office to proceed with a criminal case.