Man charged in deadly wrong-way crash

August 13, 2009 4:53:48 AM PDT
A man has been charged with intoxication manslaughter in a wrong-way collision near Jonah that killed four people and injured two others. Luke Anthony Looschen, 48, of Georgetown, was charged Tuesday with three counts of intoxication manslaughter in the deaths of Pete Mendez, 44, Paula Martinez, 38, and Crystal Martinez, 16. A fourth person, Stephanie Valadez, 24, died Wednesday.

Looschen also was charged with three counts of intoxication assault.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger said Looschen was driving a pickup the wrong way on Texas 29 on Monday night when he collided with a Jeep and a van carrying seven people. All the people who died were in the van.

Two young children who were in the van -- 3-year-old Tristan Valadez and 6-month-old Jacob Valadez -- were taken to Scott & White hospital in stable condition Monday. Vinger said he did not have an update on their conditions Wednesday.

According to an arrest affidavit, Looschen told an officer he had been drinking and had taken the painkiller hydrocodone, as well as antidepressants.

"There was evidence at the scene, within the vehicle, as well as additional evidence that leads us to believe that (Looschen) was intoxicated," Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger told the Austin American-Statesman. Blood test results were pending, Vinger said.

Looschen was taken to a Temple hospital after the crash and was transferred to the Williamson County Jail on Tuesday evening, Vinger said. Bail was set at $650,000.

An officer who answered the phone at the jail Wednesday night told The Associated Press he could not confirm whether Looschen was still in custody or say whether he had an attorney.

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