Alumnus dies in car wreck

UH Law Center alumnus and prominent Houston attorney John O’Quinn died Thursday in a one-car accident on Allen Parkway.

O’Quinn, 68, was driving his SUV down Allen Parkway with passenger Johnny Lee Cutliff, 56, of the 5300 block of Bacher Street when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. Police said both men were killed instantly.

Neither man was wearing’ his seatbelt.

Police said O’Quinn was driving at a high speed, possibly around 50-60 mph in a 40 mph zone, when he lost control of the car.

Police said the SUV probably veered to the left, jumped a curb and went over the grassy median, then crossed the eastbound traffic lanes and hopped another curb onto a second median before crashing into a tree.

‘I’m stunned. The community lost one of its biggest assets,’ Rick Laminack, who worked with O’Quinn from 1987 until 2006, told the Houston Chronicle. ‘He was a great lawyer who shared a lot of his wealth with people who needed help.’

The SUV wrapped around the tree’s trunk, and the force of the impact apparently uprooted the 30-foot tall tree.

‘Everyone is devastated,’ Neil McCabe, an attorney who worked with O’Quinn, said. ‘John not only was the head of the law firm, but a person who took care of all of us and we are going to miss him very much.’

O’Quinn was born in Houston in 1941 and graduated first in his class from the University of Houston Law Center. He founded the O’Quinn Law Firm and served as a Texas trial lawyer.

O’Quinn also served on the UH System Board of Regents from 1993-1999, and was vice chairman of the board from 1994-1996. UH named its law library and the field at Robertson Stadium after O’Quinn, due in part to his generous contributions to the University.

‘I saw John recently, visiting with him at our Homecoming football game against SMU. He was filled with his usual Cougar spirit and enthusiasm,’ UH President Renu Khator said in an e-mail. ‘Our campus mourns the loss of one of its most devoted friends and benefactors.’

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