Driver in deadly Texas crash charged with manslaughter

May 8, 2023, 8:44 AM | Updated: 9:42 pm

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) — An SUV driver who killed eight people when he slammed into a group waiting at a bus stop in Brownsville, Texas, was charged with manslaughter, police said Monday as investigators tried to determine if the crash was intentional.

Authorities believe driver George Alvarez, 34, of Brownsville, lost control after running a red light Sunday morning, and plowed into a crowd outside a migrant center in the city, which has long been an epicenter for migration across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Police Chief Felix Sauceda said Alvarez was charged with eight counts of manslaughter and 10 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Officials are awaiting toxicology reports to determine whether Alvarez was intoxicated, Sauceda said, adding that there was no motive that he could discuss. Asked about reports from witnesses that Alvarez was cursing at them, Sauceda said there was nothing to confirm that yet.

The SUV ran a red light, lost control, flipped on its side and hit 18 people, Sauceda told reporters Monday morning. Six people died on the scene and 12 people were critically injured, he said. Officials have said the death toll rose later.

Alvarez tried to flee, but was held down by several people on the scene, the police chief said. His bail was set at $3.6 million.

Victims struck by the vehicle were waiting for the bus to return to downtown Brownsville after spending the night at the Bishop Enrique San Pedro Ozanam Center, said Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. The center is the only overnight shelter in the city and manages the release of thousands of migrants from federal custody.

The victims were all male and several of them were from Venezuela, Sauceda said. The department is working with representatives of Venezuela and other countries. Law enforcement and shelter officials have not made public the identities of the victims killed.

Surveillance video from the Ozanam Center showed some of the victims sitting on the curb when they were hit at the bus stop.

“This SUV, a Range Rover, just ran the light that was about 100 feet (30 meters) away and just went through the people who were sitting there in the bus stop,” said shelter director Victor Maldonado, who reviewed the surveillance video.

Some people walking on the sidewalk about 30 feet (9 meters) from the main group were also hit, Maldonado said.

On Monday morning, Jackson Duarte, 30, a Venezuelan migrant, was sporting a haircut from a friend he made at the Ozanam shelter, where they were both staying. It was the last haircut he’d receive from him.

Duarte said three people he met at the shelter were among the victims; two of them died while a third is in the hospital with a missing limb. He said one of his friends who was killed was a barber, and the other was a young man who had recently celebrated a birthday.

Shortly before the crash, Duarte had decided to share an Uber with a friend rather than wait for the bus downtown. It was during that ride that Duarte began receiving messages about the fatal accident through Whatsapp.

“When I got there, the survivors had already been taken. I counted about seven people who had died,” Duarte recalled.

Duarte said his friend, whom he described as a studious and ambitious young man, was going downtown to reunite with his mother after crossing the border. Only Duarte made it to the bus station.

“Unfortunately, I had to share that with his mom,” Duarte said. “She was desperate, because her son had just turned 18 years old and they had gone through so much trying to get here just so that he’d lose his life here.”

Duarte’s other friend, the barber, was also heading downtown to look for a cellphone after raising money by offering haircuts, he had told Duarte.

Duarte said his friend told him “We’ll see each other in a bit,” and that it was one of the last things his friend said to him.

“It hit me really hard. I still feel bad. I don’t believe it. I don’t feel well. I couldn’t sleep all night,” Duarte said, breaking down as he thought about his friends who lost their lives.

Jesus Ferrer, 32, was standing in line with a group of migrants, including some friends when they noticed one of the vehicles driving in their direction.

“We were in line at the bus stop when we spotted a grey SUV that was coming at full speed. It came toward us and veered toward us,” he said.

The driver tried to run away after the vehicle came to a stop, but Ferrer said he was pat of the group that restrained him.

“’Go back to your country,’” Ferrer recalled the driver telling the group after they confronted him. “He was furious.”

Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino, the highest-elected official in the county that includes Brownsville, said the community is mourning.

“The indications are this was just a terrible, tragic accident,” Trevino said. “And regardless, whether it was intentional or accidental, it doesn’t matter. Those now eight individuals that lost their lives and the other 10 that are hospitalized, we’re praying for them and for their families.”

The Ozanam center remains at capacity, but there are plans to expand the number of sleeping spaces from 250 to 380 a night. During the day, migrants are free to seek employment to pay bus fare or plane tickets that cost hundreds of dollars.

“They stand here at seven in the morning,” Victor Maldonado, executive director of the Ozanam shelter, said Monday. “They get picked up to go do odd jobs, paint, cut yards — they get their money and they move on.”

Brownsville has seen a marked increase of Venezuelan migrants over the last two weeks for reasons that aren’t yet clear, authorities said. The recent increase in the number of migrants prompted Brownsville commissioners to indefinitely extend a declaration of emergency during a special meeting last week.

Roughly 30,000 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, have entered the U.S. in the region since mid-April. That’s compared with 1,700 migrants Border Patrol agents encountered in the first two weeks of April.

United States News

This photo provided by the chipmaker Nvidia shows the company’s HGX H100 module, which can use as...

Associated Press

AI chips are hot. Here’s what they are, what they’re for and why investors see gold

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The hottest thing in technology is an unprepossessing sliver of silicon closely related to the chips that power video game graphics. It’s an artificial intelligence chip, designed specifically to make building AI systems such as ChatGPT faster and cheaper. Such chips have suddenly taken center stage in what some experts consider […]

23 hours ago

Natalie R. Coles, vice president & chief development officer at Wilberforce University, poses on th...

Associated Press

US companies, nudged by Black employees, have stepped up donations to HBCUs

Natalie Coles will never forget receiving an unexpected phone call in 2020. On the line was Virginia-based Dominion Energy, offering to give money to Wilberforce University, the small historically Black college where she is in charge of fundraising. The company’s $500,000 donation went in part toward laptops and hot spots for students when the pandemic […]

23 hours ago

FILE - This booking photo provided by the Clay County, Mo., Sheriff's Office shows Andrew Lester. L...

Associated Press

Judge agrees to seal court documents in Ralph Yarl shooting; suspect to be in court

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man accused of shooting a Black teenager who mistakenly came to his door last month is scheduled to be back in court Thursday, days after a judge ruled that court documents in the case will be sealed and kept from the public. The hearing for 84-year-old Andrew Lester […]

23 hours ago

FILE - Susana Lujano, left, a dreamer from Mexico who lives in Houston, joins other activists to ra...

Associated Press

Revised DACA program to be debated before Texas judge who previously ruled against it

HOUSTON (AP) — A revised version of a federal policy that prevents the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children is set to be debated Thursday before a federal judge who previously ruled the program illegal. Attorneys representing the nine states that have sued to end the Deferred Action […]

23 hours ago

FILE - Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case that lega...

Associated Press

LGBTQ+ Pride month kicks off with protests, parades, parties

NEW YORK (AP) — The start of June marks the beginning of Pride month around the U.S. and some parts of the world, a season to celebrate the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ communities and to protest against recent attacks on hard-won civil rights gains. This year’s Pride takes place in a contentious political climate […]

23 hours ago

Associated Press

After sailing though House on bipartisan vote, Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal now goes to Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Veering away from a default crisis, the House overwhelmingly approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package, sending the deal that President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy negotiated to the Senate for swift passage in a matter of days, before a fast-approaching deadline. The hard-fought compromise pleased few, but lawmakers assessed […]

23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]

(Photo: OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center)...

OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

Here’s what you need to know about OCD and where to find help

It's fair to say that most people know what obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders generally are, but there's a lot more information than meets the eye about a mental health diagnosis that affects about one in every 100 adults in the United States.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Driver in deadly Texas crash charged with manslaughter