HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - A Tomball man was sentenced to 50 years in prison for driving drunk and killing three family members.
Jeremy Paul Valdez, 27, pleaded guilty on Thursday, four days into the jury trial.
The victims were a mother, father and their son who had just picked up his cap and gown ahead of graduating from high school when the crash happened.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office reports, Valdez was driving a pick-up truck at 106 mph in May of 2016 when he ran a red light and smashed into the family's car.
“Three people lost their lives, and a bright young light was extinguished before it could truly shine,” said Sean Teare, Chief of the Vehicular Crimes Division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. “This was a tragedy for the entire community.”
The family members all died at the scene, near the corner of Kuykendahl Road and FM 2920.
They have been identified as Emilio Avila Blanco, Hilda Avila, and their son, Mauricio Ramirez, 18.
Mauricio was a student at Klein Oak High School.
After the crash, Valdez climbed out of the window of the pick-up truck he was driving and tried to escape on foot, but he was caught a block away by Good Samaritans.
He had a blood-alcohol concentration of almost three times the legal limit. He had three prior convictions for drunk driving and served two years in prison for a May 2013 drunk driving incident in which deputies tried to stop him in Montgomery County.
In the earlier case, he led them on a 22-mile chase that ended when he crashed into a pick-up truck carrying two women. The women had to be hospitalized.
“The two surviving orphans will never be the same,” Teare said of two younger children who had been at their grandparents house at the time of the accident.
“This sentence ensures that this family can begin the healing process without fear of an appeal and that the community will be safe from this habitual offender for at least 25 years,” said Teare, who prosecuted the case in the 208th District Court before Judge Denise Collins. “It also shows that this administration will not let these types of crimes to go unpunished.”