Alleged drunken driver rides through cemetery

August 19, 2011 2:22:12 PM PDT
Deputy constables are investigating a possible DWI accident in which the driver crashed through a cemetery.

Imagine coming to a cemetery to visit the grave of a loved one and finding a mess. A half-dozen families are now in for a big disappointment and the Harris County Precinct 6 Constable's Office deputies say drinking and driving is to blame.

The peace and quiet of Evergreen Cemetery in east Houston was suddenly interrupted Thursday evening.

"This is the first one he ended up taking," Harris County Precinct 6 Constable's Office Deputy Mario Monterroza said.

And soon, Deputy Monterroza was investigating a DWI in an unlikely place.

"Especially in a cemetery, you don't expect that every day," he said.

Eyewitnesses told Deputy Monterroza that a man in a pickup came barreling into the cemetery around 5:30pm Thursday, made the turn and headed right for the dead-end, first crashing through seven headstones before landing on top of the fence.

"The front wheel of the vehicle hit over there, on top of (the fence) and pretty much the back wheel on this stone right here," Monterroza said.

Police say 50-year-old Paul Martinez Jr. and his female passenger bailed out and ran off. Both were arrested before they even got out of the neighborhood. Martinez is now facing a DWI charge, and the woman is facing a public intoxication charge.

Despite all the cracked concrete and scattered flowers, Deputy Monterroza says the driver never mentioned the crash.

"He was too impaired at the time. He really, I believe, didn't know at the time the damage he had caused," Monterroza said.

Here to visit her brother's grave on what would have been his 21st birthday, Melissa Gomez can't imagine finding such a mess at such a sacred place.

"That's not good, right for this. It's our family, and we have to respect this," Gomez said.

Deputies say the man told them he was here at the cemetery to visit a friend. Now, he's at the hospital after complaining of chest pains. But he's still under arrest.

A caretaker says the driver caused $20,000 in damage.

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