A suspected drunken driver traveling the wrong way along a Texas tollway, smashed head-on into a patrol car, injured two deputies, and killed their back-seat passenger who was under arrest on suspicion of drunk driving.
Harris County Sheriff said in a statement that the crash late on July 21 was caused by a suspected drunk driver.
“At time of impact, our unit was transporting an adult to county jail, that male has been pronounced deceased at the scene. Both deputies have been transported to hospital with fractures.”
The deputies are expected to survive their injuries, according to local reports.
The driver of the wrong-way vehicle fractured his leg in the crash.
A picture of the patrol car shared by the sheriff’s office shows the front of the vehicle completely stoved in.
(1) One of our @HCSOTexas units, occupied by 2 deputies was struck by a suspected drunk driver. At time of impact, our unit was transporting an adult to county jail, that male has been pronounced deceased at the scene. Both deputies have been transported to hospital w/fractures. pic.twitter.com/TxeXZ6Sacj
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) July 22, 2019
The passenger was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, the sheriff’s office said, according to KHOU.
Local media footage and social media pictures show a white Lexus with the front caved in at the scene of the crash.
The driver of the Lexus has not been named. They have been charged with felony murder and possible additional charges depending on the status of the deputies.
The suspect driver was highly intoxicated, according to the sheriff, and has more than three DWI convictions.
The crash occurred on the two-lane Westpark Tollway where counterflowing traffic is separated by a 2-foot-tall concrete barrier.
“This suspect, the one who was driving the wrong way, has been charged with felony murder because this is more than his third DWI conviction,” said Sean Teare with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, reported ABC13.
Authorities say the driver was going the wrong way for a while before the crash and has DWI convictions from numerous states.
“It’s 11:30 at night. These officers are doing their job, protecting us from other people, putting their lives on the line. This is not okay,” Teare said. “This individual… wasn’t like a wrong turn. Heard he was going the wrong way for quite a while before he hit these three people.”
Drunk Driving Stats
On any given day, nearly 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes, according to 2017 figures published by the United States Department of Transportation.
This is equivalent to one lost life every 48 minutes or just over 10,000 deaths per year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the 1,233 traffic deaths among children ages 0 to 14 years in 2016, 214 (17 percent) involved a driver operating under the influence of alcohol.
More than 1 million drivers were arrested in 2016 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
Deaths due to drunk-driving have fallen by a third in the last three decades, the DOT notes.