FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — A restaurant employee accused of serving almost a dozen pitchers of beer to two teens was arrested after one of them died in a car crash in January.
Edith Melendez is charged with serving alcohol to a minor and over-serving an intoxicated person. Both are Class A misdemeanors, according to the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office.
Melendez is accused of serving 17-year-old James Russell O’Canas Jr., and Lee Cruz Trevino Jr., 19, almost a dozen pitchers of beer at the BreWingZ located along the Southwest Freeway in Rosenberg on Jan. 12. Surveillance video showed that the server never checked their identification over the course of several hours.
The video even showed the teens drinking straight from the pitcher before they left, according to the DA’s Office.
Investigators say after the teens left the restaurant, they were involved in a crash in the 900 block of Lum Road in Fort Bend County.
The car burst into flames after Trevino lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree, deputies said.
The crash happened in front of John Coulter’s home around 1 a.m.
“We heard a loud noise,” Coulter said. “My wife said, ‘There’s fire!’ Martin (witness) ran outside. I went behind him. By the time I got to the car, it was completely involved, and Martin had pulled (Trevino) out.”
Coulter said the car traveled about 600 feet from where it left the road until it hit five trees.
A witness pulled Trevino from the car. However, the teen driver ran from the scene without helping O’Canas who was still trapped in the burning car.
Deputies say several hours after the crash, Trevino returned to the scene and identified himself as the driver. They added that he showed signs of intoxication and was arrested.
He was charged with accident involving injury or death.
A blood sample was taken from Trevino and the test results are pending at this time, the DA’s Office said. He could face an intoxicated manslaughter charge once the results come back.
There is also an arrest warrant for Trevino’s brother, Vicente Joshua “Ben” Costillo, 25, on the charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor.
Deputies say they tried to serve the warrant Wednesday morning at Costillo’s home in El Campo, but he was not there. They attempted to catch him at work in Clute, but say he was tipped off by his wife.
He remains on the run.
A manager at the BreWingZ told KHOU their staff does TABC training but would not comment further. There’s a sign posted inside at the restaurant entrance warning of ID checks.
O’Canas’ father, James Sr., told KHOU his son was a popular high school senior who dreamed of working in nuclear science and eventually owning his own ranch.
He said his son and Trevino had been close friends for years.
The teen’s father acknowledged bad decisions were made but said he believes his son’s death will serve as an example that will save many others’ lives.
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