2 girls from SA killed in Alabama crash; Ex-astronaut charged

Niomi James, Jayla Parler attended NEISD schools

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Court documents show a former astronaut charged with reckless murder tried to take the vehicle of a passer-by after a deadly crash in rural Alabama that killed two girls from San Antonio.

The claim is included in a state trooper's description of the wreck that led to the arrest of five-time space shuttle flier James Halsell Jr., of Huntsville.

The officer wrote that Halsell appeared extremely intoxicated after the crash, which killed the girls early Monday. The victims were identified as Niomi James and Jayla Parler. North East Independent School District spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor said James had just finished fifth grade at Camelot Elementary and Parler had just finished sixth grade at Ed White Middle School.

The officer's statement said a motorist who stopped to offer aid told officers that the one-time astronaut tried to take his pickup truck. The description doesn't say what happened next, but Halsell was still on the scene when officers arrived.

Halsell, 59, is free on $150,000 bond. A woman who answered the phone Wednesday at his home number declined comment.