Woman dies, family members injured after being struck by alleged drunk driver


On Friday morning, there was to be a yard sale at the family's Jacinto City home. Instead, it was quiet, except for the sound of Leslie Perez's grief, a friend of the victim.

"She would always tell me just have faith in God," said Perez. "God did it for a reason...even if you have to lose things to gain something much better."

She was a neighbor and a friend of Laura Hernandez, 57, who lived there with her husband, her teenage son, his girlfriend and their year-old daughter.

On Thursday night, the family was going home on Clinton near Holland when police say their truck was rear-ended and pushed off the road into a creek by another truck driven by 21-year-old Tomas Ortiz.

"He estimates that his speed was anywhere from 75 to 80 miles an hour when he struck the truck with that family in the rear," said Sgt. S. Wolverton with the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

People nearby heard the sound of the collision and ran to the banks of the creek.

"Her friend was trying to pull the vehicle over where they could get more people out, but the lady was trapped in there with the seat belt on," said Debbie Thurston, who lives nearby.

In the end, everyone was freed except for Hernandez, who was found in the crumpled truck cab beyond help.

Ortiz and his companion were not seriously injured. He's now in jail, charged with intoxication manslaughter.

The family remains in the hospital. All are expected to recover, but like Perez, who regarded Hernandez as a second mother, they will never be the same.

"They didn't care if they didn't have money, as long as they had their family and they were together, they were happy," she said

Hernandez's family members are expected to be released from the hospital this weekend. A community-wide car wash will be held to raise money for the family. It's going to be Sunday at the Auto Zone at 1210 Federal Road.

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