Suspected Drunk Driver Arrested in Hit and Run
May 28, 2012
A woman suspected of drunk driving has been arrested for the hit and run killing of a pedestrian in Corpus Christi, Texas, a sad reminder of the epidemic of alcohol-related driving fatalities in the state.
On May 29, Gilbert Reyna was walking near an Interstate 37 access road when he was struck by a vehicle. The impact killed him, but the vehicle did not stop. Police were able to locate the vehicle the next day, due to a tip called in by Brian Welch, a passenger in the vehicle. Welch said he was asleep at the moment of impact with Reyna, but the crash and loud noise awakened him. He named Tabatha Elliot as the driver of the vehicle.
Police arrested Elliot on June 5 for causing the accident and Reyna’s death.
According to a news account, while Elliot was in jail she told a cell mate that she had killed a pedestrian walking near a road in a hit-and-run accident. She also said she did so after driving away from a bar, and that she should not have been driving. Police documents state Elliot had been drinking several types of alcoholic beverages at the bar before she struck Reyna. She is being held on a $175,000 bond. Police are continuing to develop the case against Elliot for the hit and run.
Gilbert Reyna’s brother Jesse was with him at the time of the accident. Jesse Reyna had run out of gas, and Gilbert rode his bicycle to where the car had stalled, to help his brother. The two brothers were walking along the side of road when Gilbert was struck. He was killed instantly. The Reyna family said they are glad an arrest has been made. So far, they have not received an apology for the death of their son. Mr. Reyna was thirty-nine years old at the time of his death.
Officials say that fatalities involving driving under the influence (DUI) are all the more tragic because they are preventable. Sadly, Texas has consistently ranked among the most deadly states for DUI accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2009 there were 1,235 DUI fatalities in Texas, the highest in the United States. NHTSA counts a death as being caused by alcohol impairment if the driver’s blood alcohol level is .08 or higher. When compared to other traffic fatalities, Texas has the fifth highest rate of drunk driving deaths in the nation, with 40% of all highway fatalities being caused by alcohol impairment.