Homeless man dies after being hit by car in SW Houston Burger King drive-thru

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Police say a medical issue may have contributed to the of death a homeless man who was hit by a vehicle in a Burger King drive-thru in southwest Houston overnight.

Officers said the man was picking up change at the drive-thru window outside the restaurant at 8181 W. Sam Houston Parkway South near Beechnut when he was hit by a car.

Houston police said the restaurant's manager was the one driving.

Investigators said they have a "suspicion" around what happened, but there are two very different sides to the story.

The 20-year-old Burger King manager who allegedly hit the man with his car says one thing, and the girlfriend of the homeless man says another.

The manager told police when he pulled around to the drive-thru area in his white Buick around 12:20 a.m., he didn't see the homeless couple picking up change in front of the drive-thru window.

Police said the manager hit the 26-year-old man, who later died at the hospital.

"(The manager) said he was going on break. It is plausible that that is the case, and that he may not have known that they were still in the drive-thru. Unfortunately, he contacted the male in the drive-thru," Sgt. David Rose said. "We have video of the incident. It does not appear to be an intentional act at this time. We are investigating it as a crash. There are a lot of questions that we have, that we're trying to get to the bottom of."

However, shortly before the crash, police said there was some kind of altercation between the couple and the Burger King workers.

Police said the couple walked up to the drive-thru window trying to order food. The workers reportedly told them no, and said they couldn't order unless they were in a car.

That's when HPD said the man asked for scissors, and an employee gave him a knife. The man was upset and began arguing with the employee before he stabbed the drive-thru plexiglass window several times, according to police.

No one was injured in the altercation. Police said surveillance video shows the homeless man with the knife.

After that, the man stopped, and he and his girlfriend began collecting change on the ground, police said.

While the couple was picking up the change, police said the manager got into his vehicle, drove around the building, and struck the man.

"His wife is very distraught. She witnessed this whole incident. Like I said, there's a difference of statements -- very, very intense difference about what actually transpired, the events leading up to this," Rose said. "We're trying to get to the bottom of it."

A preliminary investigation determined that the man may have run in front of the vehicle as it passed, according to HPD.

Police said unlike typical crashes involving pedestrians, there was no damage to the vehicle -- the windshield wasn't shattered and there was no blood at the scene.

Investigators confirmed that the man was struck by the vehicle and dragged some distance, but said an autopsy will confirm his exact cause of death. It is believed that the man, who suffered little-to-no trauma, may have suffered a medical issue that contributed to his death.

No charges have been filed, though the investigation is ongoing. The district attorney's office is involved.

Anyone with information in this case is urged to contact the HPD Vehicular Crimes Division at 713-247-4072.

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