Joyriding may be what caused a chase and deadly wreck on the Eastex Freeway, Cleveland PD says

Nick Natario Image
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Joyriding may be what caused wreck that killed teen, Cleveland PD says
Cleveland PD said that joyriding may be what caused a chase and wreck that killed Julio Uribe after his friend was driving 100 miles per hour.

CLEVELAND, Texas (KTRK) -- Instead of a graduation party, a Cleveland family is preparing a funeral after officers said a teen was thrown from a vehicle in which his friend was driving 100 miles per hour.

The deadly wreck happened after 2:00 a.m. on Sunday. On Monday, ABC13 got the first look at the teenager now charged with murder.

Officers say Anthony Figueroa, 19, of Cleveland, may have been joyriding with two other teens when he was spotted going 100 miles per hour on the Eastex Freeway Sunday morning.

A Montgomery County sheriff's deputy saw him, and a chase occurred. It ended at the North Washington Avenue exit just north of Cleveland in Liberty County with a wreck.

Figueroa took off but was later arrested and charged with murder after a passenger was killed.

"I know it's got to be difficult for the young man and the family, the two families that have known each other," Cleveland police Chief Darrel Broussard said. "A friend dying at the hands of the driver, but it meets the elements of the Texas penal code."

SEE ORIGINAL REPORT: Teen passenger dies after being ejected during high-speed chase in Montgomery County, officials say

According to officials, the 18-year-old victim was ejected after the 19-year-old driver attempted to make a sharp turn in an attempt to evade police near Cleveland, Texas.

Figueroa's face wasn't the only one we saw Monday. Cleveland ISD shared an image of the teen who was killed.

The smile was almost as big as Julio Uribe's hair as he stood in his cap and gown. "He was a really hard worker at school and also outside of school," Douglass Learning Academy principal Mark Rodriguez recalled.

That drive allowed the Douglass Learning Academy student to earn enough credits to graduate months ago. Uribe was set to receive his diploma on Thursday.

"We're going to leave the seat that he was going to sit in vacant," Rodriguez explained. "We do plan on announcing his name to walk across the stage. We will also observe him in a moment of silence."

The spot where the teen lost control isn't unknown to officers. Although they believe the teens were going well above the posted 30 miles per hour, they'd like to see changes.

"There used to be, if I remember correctly, some directional arrows there," Broussard said. "We've had a couple of fatalities at that intersection. Again, we are working with TXDOT to get some more enhancement, not only due to this happening but preventing other lives and tragedies from happening."

Liberty County prosecutors said the teen was charged with murder because he was evading police, which is a felony, and the actions resulted in a death.

As for the third teen in the vehicle, he's not facing any charges, prosecutors say, because he wasn't driving.

As for the pursuit, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office is doing an internal investigation. If it finds any policy violations occurred, those deputies involved could face administrative actions.

To help with funeral costs, a GoFundMe was created to help the Uribe family.

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