HOUSTON—An alleged drunk driver is charged with intoxication manslaughter after a crash that led to the drowning death of a grandmother in a Galena Park creek..
Elias Hernandez was driving his wife and family home on Clinton Road Thursday night when his pickup truck was rear-ended by a Dodge Charger.
Investigators at the scene estimated the driver was going more than 75 miles an hour when he struck the Hernandez’ family pickup truck.
The pickup carrying five members of the Hernandez family careened off the north side of the road, flipped upside down and landed in a creek.
Elias Hernandez was able to help his 19-year-old son, 20 year old daughter-in-law and their baby girl get out of the truck. But his wife, 57-year-old Laura Valencia Hernandez, was stuck in her seatbelt underwater.
"He said, ‘Help, help she’s trapped, she’s trapped,’" said witness Misty Wagner.
"Once it happened, he was trying to pull everybody out of the water. Everybody was basically drowning," said Hernandez family friend Leslie Perez.
Harris County Sheriff’s deputies confirmed to KHOU 11 News that Laura Hernandez drowned.
Tomas Ortiz Jr., who was a brand new car that didn’t even have permanent license plates yet, was arrested at the scene after he failed a field sobriety test.
He wasn’t injured in the crash and was jailed immediately on a charge of intoxication manslaughter. As of this writing, tests are pending on his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash.
"If people were more responsible about their actions and actually thought about it, even if you are drunk, I know you know what you’re doing," said Perez. "Think about it before you go do something stupid like get behind the wheel and actually driving and hitting innocent people."
The other members of the Hernandez family, including the baby, were admitted to a local hospital late Thursday night with minor injuries. All of them are expected to survive.
"You don’t need to be doing all this other stuff to get distracted and hurt other people if you don’t need to," added Perez. "Imagine if it happened to your family. And you’re in jail now."
Family and friends of Laura Hernandez plan to hold a carwash fundraiser October 18th to help the family pay for her funeral. It will be held all day in the parking lot of the AutoZone at 1210 Federal Road.