CANTON, Texas -- A Houston man has been jailed on four counts of criminally negligent homicide after his car swerved into oncoming traffic on a highway near Canton, killing four people on motorcycles.
Jose Luis Pena, 31, of Rosharon, was being held on $2 million bail in the Van Zandt County jail. A jail spokeswoman told The Associated Press on Monday that records do not indicate whether he has an attorney.
The collision occurred near Canton, about 60 miles east of Dallas, on Sunday afternoon. Pena’s Mustang crossed over into the opposing lane, resulting in the head-on crash.
"According to one witness, the vehicle was swerving in its lane, and then crossed into the other lane and struck the motorcycles," Department of Public Safety Trooper Landon Corbett told The Dallas Morning News.
The dead were identified as 51-year-old Bruce Melvin Bricker and his wife, 40-year-old Shannon Rhenee Bricker, both of Highland Village. The two were riding one of the two motorcycles involved. Steve Austin Claterbaugh, 53, of Rowlett, and his girlfriend Kathleen Dolores Smith, 52, of Wylie, were on the other motorcycle. They also died.
Pena’s girlfriend, 31-year-old Rosalind Ann Vela of Rosharon, was in serious condition at a Tyler hospital with facial fractures.
Vela was seated in the back seat of the Mustang without a seat belt, along with her 3-year-old son. Authorities say the boy was in a car seat. He was hospitalized but expected to recover.
The motorcyclists had been attending the First Monday Trade Days flea market in Canton, and they were heading north on Highway 19 about a mile from the city when Pena’s southbound Mustang entered their lane. The collision was head-on, and the car burst into flames.
Pena was following his girlfriend’s mother back to Rosharon when the crash occurred, Corbett said.
"I’m not sure where they were coming from, so I’m not sure if fatigue played a role," he said.
Corbett said there were no indications of alcohol or drug use. He said that, because of the fire, he does not know if the car had a mechanical problem.