GALVESTON, Texas - A new arrest has been made in the deadly drunk driving crash in Galveston that killed four people in August.
Gil Garcia, 58, was charged by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) for allegedly selling alcohol to an already intoxicated customer, 45-year-old Miguel Espinoza, on Aug. 6.
Gil Garcia, 58 (Photo Courtesy of TABC and Galveston County Jail)
Garcia is a bartender at Gloria's Lounge in Galveston. He could face a fine of up to $500 and serve up to a year in jail.
According to Galveston police, around 11:30 p.m., at the intersection of 33rd Street and Avenue R, Espinoza went through a stop sign and crashed his black Hyundai SUV into a golf cart going northbound and a black Dodge pick-up that was heading southbound. There were reportedly three adults and three children in the golf cart.
The driver of the cart was pronounced dead at the scene and all other passengers were taken to the University of Texas Medical Branch, where two of the children and one of the female passengers, died from their injuries.
Police identified the victims as Rosenberg residents, 49-year-old Felipe Bentancur, 25-year-old Destiny Uvalle, 14-year-old Brailyn Cantu, and 4-year-old Kaisyn Bentacur. The other child and adult passenger were last reported to be in serious condition. The passengers of the Dodge did not report any injuries.
Espinoza faces four counts of intoxicated manslaughter and was booked in Galveston County on a $400,000 bond. In a recent lawsuit, the victims' families are suing at least three bars for over serving the driver in the hours leading up to the crash.
Miguel Espinoza, 45 (Photo courtesy of Galveston County)
"This tragic case illustrates why it’s so important that alcohol retailers take steps to prevent sales to customers who show signs of intoxication," TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham said. "Businesses can help prevent deadly crashes by following the law and educating employees on how to identify signs of intoxication. Businesses that are found to have contributed to serious injury or loss of life will be held accountable."
"The family is obviously grieving still very heavily, this happened in Galveston within blocks of their incident," says James Amaro, with Amaro Law Firm. "They are aware of the arrest and are encouraged by the TABC’s investigation.
"It’s a good opportunity for businesses to remind their employees of their responsibilities as it relates to preventing these types of sales," says Chris Porter, TABC. "It’s alway best to make sure your employees are trained and have the knowledge to recognize those signs of intoxication before something like this happens."
The criminal case is still under investigation by the Galveston Police Department and Galveston County District Attorney’s Office. A TABC administrative case against Gloria’s Lounge remains pending.