Galveston police to crack down on drunk driving in new campaign after 5 die in August crashes

Residents and visitors in the Galveston area should expect to see a heavier police presence starting this weekend.

The city announced police officers are enhancing their traffic safety enforcement measures, including patrolling for speeding, drunk driving, and other traffic violations – their response as more alcohol-related crashes occur in the city.

"Our primary goal is prevention," Galveston Police Chief Doug Balli said. "We want drivers to make the right decision before getting behind the wheel, which may mean designating a sober driver or using a taxi or ride-share."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Galveston City Council considering banning all golf cart rentals after 4 killed by drunk driver

The push for enforcement comes as five people have died in two separate crashes in the month of August. 

Four people, including two children, were killed when police say an SUV driven by Miguel Espinoza crashed into their golf cart on August 6. 

BACKGROUND: Suspected drunk driver charged after 2 adults, 2 children killed

A total of six people were on the cart at the time of the crash that happened at the intersection of 33rd Street and Avenue R.

Police identified the victims as 49-year-old Felipe Bentancur, 25-year-old Destiny Uvalle, 14-year-old Brailyn Cantu, and 4-year-old Kaisyn Bentacur. All are residents of Rosenberg.

MORE: Galveston golf cart crash victims: Police release names of 2 children, 2 adults

Police say 58-year-old Espinoza, also from Rosenberg, crashed his Hyundai SUV into a black Dodge pick-up truck in addition to the golf cart. 

He was charged with four counts of intoxication manslaughter.

Police report on August 14, Yordany Ferrer, 35, was arrested following a crash that left a 53-year-old man dead. 

John David Bell was traveling westbound on Avenue U on his scooter and stopped at a stop sign. As his scooter went through the intersection at 53rd Street, police say a Nissan Altima, driven by Ferrer, ran the stop sign and hit the scooter. Bell was ejected from the scooter and landed on the windshield of a Chevy pickup truck traveling south on 53rd Street. 

MORE: Deadly Galveston scooter crash: Driver charged with intoxication manslaughter

He later died from his injuries. Ferrer also faces an intoxication manslaughter charge.

According to the city’s press release, the department collects data on where traffic accidents are most prevalent on the island and uses that data to inform its policing efforts.

In Galveston, the police department has performed 421 arrests for impaired driving since January 1, 2021 - similar to the previous year's numbers. 

The department says it will continue its efforts to stop drunk drivers, but the focus will also be on preventing impaired driving. GPD also released a drunk-driving PSA Friday afternoon.