This past Sunday a terrible drunk driving accident in El Paso resulted in the deaths of three young people from Garland as well two others. Eleven-year-old Brenda Morales, her younger brother eight-year-old DeMarco Morales and their 18-year-old cousin Jasmine Alferez were visiting their grandparents in El Paso at the time of the accident. The three youths were in the car with their grandfather Humberto Alferez and Aurora Sombra when they were hit by a speeding pickup truck that had run a stop sign. Everyone in the car was killed.
Alberto Coronado, 23, was driving the pickup truck that caused the accident. Coronado’s Ford smashed into the family’s Chevy Impala with a force so great it pushed the sedan into the middle of the street and flipped it upside down. Coronado’s truck ended up on its roof in the front yard of nearby house after crashing through a fence and knocking over a gas meter. One witness told WFAA that the impact sounded like an explosion to neighbors who heard the accident.
Coronado has been apprehended by El Paso police and has been charged with five counts of intoxication manslaughter. He did not sustain critical injuries during the wreck and observers say he was able to get out of his vehicle after the crash. After police arrived they performed a sobriety test and asked Coronado if he had been drinking. An affidavit suggests that Coronado admitted to having at least two beers before driving. Reports from the El Paso Times indicate that Coronado may not have even braked before the accident. Coronado was out on bail at the time of the accident after a DWI charge from last December when he was arrested for driving with a dangerously high blood alcohol level.
Texans from Dallas to El Paso have been affected by the accident. Friends and family held a memorial for the victims of the accident at the crash site and Lakeview Centennial High School students held a candlelight vigil. Agencies like the Red Cross have stepped in to aid the family in any way possible. Accounts have been set up at Chase Bank to accept donations from those who are grieving as well as concerned citizens wishing to express to their condolences.
The online coverage of the story from new sources like WFAA, FOX 4 and The Dallas Morning News Crime Blog have sparked many comments from readers. Many were words of compassion and condolence, but there were also some that showed a deep frustration even anger over the penalties for drunk driving. The fact that Coronado had a previous arrest points to a larger societal problem of how to keep Texans safe from drunk drivers.
Some car accidents are unavoidable, but so much of what lead to this accident could have been prevented. The truth is that Coronado and the authorities were aware of his drinking and driving problem, but the government infrastructure in place was simply not enough to prevent the crash. There were also mentions in the El Paso Times of the specific intersection where the wreck took place and concerns that the intersection is generally unsafe.
What can we do that we are not already doing to prevent drunk driving accidents? It’s a question that people all over the country are trying to answer, particularly when it comes to repeat offenders. Unfortunately, there seems to be no good answer to what remains a devastating problem.