WESLACO, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A woman accused of drunk driving and evading police has been charged with murder after being involved in a crash that killed a teenager.
The Weslaco Police Department provided more information on the crash at a press conference on Tuesday.
Police say the incident began when a Progreso police officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop in the area of Baker Road around 7 p.m. on Saturday. The driver, Deana Gonzalez, 27, pulled over and officers made contact with her in her vehicle.
Gonzalez showed signs of intoxication, according to Weslaco police. She was unable to perform a field sobriety test and a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) trooper was called to the scene.
At this time, Gonzalez began to flee police in her vehicle, according to police.
The pursuit continued to FM 1015 where Gonzalez was seen striking a vehicle near 18th Street in Weslaco, according to police.
Gonzalez struck the back of a vehicle driven by Jaime Garcia Jr., 18, while he was stopped at a red light. The impact forced forward Garcia’s vehicle into oncoming traffic where it was struck by another vehicle. Police say the speedometer on Gonzalez’s vehicle was stuck at 90 mph after the crash.
Witnesses told police that Garcia’s car caught on fire. Progreso police, Weslaco police, and Weslaco EMS arrived on the scene and attempted to extinguish the fire and render aid to those injured.
Garcia was later pronounced dead as a result of injuries suffered in the incident. Multiple people were transported to a local hospital with minor injuries, according to police.
Gonzalez was charged with murder and arraigned at a hospital where she is receiving treatment for injuries she suffered in the crash on Tuesday. She faces a $1 million bond for her charges.
“It is in fact a murder [investigation] because she fled from a person she knows to be a peace officer and caused the death of another person and that’s what qualifies this to be murder,” said Joel Rivera, Weslaco Police Chief.
Once Gonzalez is released from the hospital she will be transported to the Weslaco Police Department and then turned over to Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office custody.
Police say Garcia was set to graduate from Mercedes High School this month and was registered to join the U.S. Navy. The Mercedes Independent School District stated they were sad about the loss of Garcia and were providing resources for students that may be impacted by his death.
“Mercedes ISD counselors are providing counseling services to students and staff all day today and throughout the end of the week, said the district in a statement. “On behalf of Mercedes ISD, we extend our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones.”
“At the end of the day, this is how the decision to drink and drive impacts other people,” said Rivera. “It wasn’t just the death of Mr. Garcia, it was his family and, in effect, the community.”
Rivera went on to condemn drunk driving and stated people need to take more of a personal responsibility to not drive under the influence.
“This is a senseless death. This man was looking forward to serving his country. But one person made a very poor decision that sent ripples throughout the community,” said Rivera.
Witnesses told investigators that Gonzalez, a Pharr resident, was traveling from Mexico where she consumed alcohol.
Gonzalez has a criminal history that includes convictions for assaulting a public servant, theft, and drug possession. She currently faces charges of terroristic threat and criminal mischief from February 2021.