DALLAS -- A suspected drunk driver with four previous DWI arrests and a history of police pursuits was fleeing authorities when he caused a fiery crash early Monday, killing a married couple and seriously injuring at least three others, officials said.
Uriel Perez Palacios A Dallas County Sheriff’s Department deputy pulled over a Chevy Tahoe driven by Uriel Perez Palacios, 21, about 2 a.m. after seeing the vehicle weaving on North Central Expressway. The deputy suspected Mr. Palacios may have been drunk, said Kimberlee Leach, a sheriff’s department spokeswoman.
As the deputy approached the vehicle, Mr. Palacios drove away with his lights off and immediately exited at Mockingbird Lane, Ms. Leach said. He ran a red light at the intersection and struck another Tahoe, sending Mr. Palacios’ vehicle into the air.
The Tahoe landed on a third vehicle, a Scion SUV, killing Erika Clouet, 24, and German Clouet, 23.
“Many deputies said it was one of the worst accidents that they ever saw,” Ms. Leach said. “You couldn’t make out what kinds of vehicles were involved.”
Mr. Palacios was thrown from his vehicle, Ms. Leach said. His passenger, Didiana Espinoza, 23, had to be cut from the wreckage. Both were taken to Baylor Hospital in Dallas in critical condition.
Authorities arrested Mr. Palacios earlier this year for driving while intoxicated, his fourth, Ms. Leach said. He already was facing DWI charges from that incident and another in 2007, and had been involved in two police chases prior to Monday’s crash.
Ms. Leach added that, based on his most recent arrest, Mr. Palacios may have been driving on a suspended license.
Officials plan to charge Mr. Palacios with intoxication manslaughter if he survives. Deputies are still investigating his whereabouts before the accident.
Five Southern Methodist University students were in the other Tahoe, two of whom were seriously injured. The driver was in surgery today at Baylor Hospital for a broken left arm, which had also been burned. A passenger was undergoing tests at Baylor.
A tenant at the Hotel Palomar, David Wong, 33, of Tulsa, Okla, said he was awoken by a loud boom outside. He said he opened his window to see a car on its side and another on fire.
“One guy was on the ground screaming,” he said.
The intersection was shut down for four hours as deputies investigated the accident. Lanes on Central Expressway also shut down as deputies cleaned up gasoline that spilled onto the freeway. Officials re-opened the roads a few hours later.
***Me and a friend of mine, Hortensia stopped to look at the scene of this accident and witness the victims being pulled out. Yes we also witnessed Mr. Clouet being pulled from his vehicle, lifeless. It took workers 20 minutes to pull him out with the jaws of life. There is much blame to pass around and I would begin with the system that let Mr. Palacios loose.