Drunk Driving Accident Kills 3 Students
A fatal car accident involved three students from Sam Houston State University, with alcohol content levels more than twice the legal limit in Texas.
The people who died at the scene were the driver Bianca Espinal, 19, Eric Torres, 22, and Alfonso Mata, 20. The fatal car accident occurred on December 14th 2013 between Bowers Boulevard and Avenue I on the SHSU Campus.
According to the autopsy toxicology reports from the Montgomery County Forensic Services, Espinal was tested to have a blood alcohol level of .21g/100mL, and 2.0 ng/mL of tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary product found in marijuana.
The Police Sgt. Ronald Cleere of the University stated that investigators are still waiting for an advance reconstruction report that would give authorities an accurate portrait of how fast the vehicle came to be to cause the accident.
The reports from the Texas Department of Transportation showed that the 2006 Chevrolet Impala was travelling north on 2000 block Avenue I at a high speed rate. when the left tire of the vehicle struck a traffic island on the north side of the Bowers Boulevard.
The car then crossed into the landscape area at the east ending of the Academic Building 4, struck the handrail and light post, before going airborne.
“It’s the ultimate consequence to pay for consuming alcohol and driving,” said Cleere. “The ultimate bad outcome of this is death and it happened to students at this university. It’s really sad.”
According to police reports, Torres was ejected partially through the vehicle's sun roof.
The SHSU during early investigation misidentified one of the three students as Roberto Rodriguez Guerra after identifying a piece of property belonging to Guerra in the vehicle. UPD Chief Kevin Morris admitted the mistake.
Guerra told authorities that it was his iPod, which contained copies of his class schedule and student ID that police used to identify one of the students at the scene.
The only sole survivor of the crash was 23-year Thomas Roling, who indicated in reports that he extracted himself out of the vehicle and waited for emergency responders, before being treated at the Huntsville Memorial Hospital.
Police arrived to the fatal accident scene before 5:00 a.m, Saturday December 14th, hours before SHSU holding a commencement ceremony at the Johnson Coliseum, one block from the accident.
The SHSU Alcohol and Drug Abuse Initiative makes effort to prevent similar incidents. The ADAI Coordinator Edward Gisemba said even before the crash, they planned a relaunching for a designated driver incentive program. Gisemba said the program faded years ago due to poor marketing, but saw positive reviews.
The ADAI has been reaching out to local bars to support the program by hanging banners that promote responsible drinking.
“Obviously it’s a tragedy that has hit many of the people in Student Services very hard, myself especially because this is the very thing I’m trying to prevent,” said Gisemba. “What we’re trying to do to the best of our ability is look forward and try to determine how to avoid this from ever happening again. And we’ll do that on a number of fronts.”
Gisemba discussed with colleagues at the SHSU having having something similar to the Texas A&M carpooling system that runs Thursday through Saturdays that would take students home from the bars.
But Gisemba also mentioned the importance of empowering bystanders and peers to effectively deter friends from drinking and driving.
“Even more so than a program to promote safety and responsibility, we need to be able to show students how important it is to prevent one another from drinking and driving,” Gisemba said. “We can have a program with certain hours of operation, but ultimately people might drink and need to get home at a time that’s not within that window. We want them to make the responsible decision.”
Source: The Huntsville Item, "Alcohol involved in fatal crash," Brandon K. Scott, January 17, 2014