Galveston PD in need of more resources after 3rd DWI crash in a month, victim's mom tells ABC13

"The act of one selfish person has impacted us for a lifetime," Cara Coza said in an interview only on ABC13.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022
DWI suspect's release contingent on 3-month rehab, parole chief says
The mother of one of the teenagers hurt in a crash involving a recently-released DWI parolee speaks only to ABC13 in wake of a state board chief explaining what led to the suspect's release hours before the deadly wreck.

GALVESTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A mother whose son survived a deadly Galveston crash that killed a 14-year-old is speaking out for the families who weren't as fortunate.

Cara Coza recalls getting the most terrifying phone call a parent can imagine.

"I don't want the phone call again," Coza said. "I don't want any other mom to get that phone call for something as senseless and preventable as this."

On Friday, Coza learned her son was involved in a deadly wreck outside of his school, Ball High School, while on the way to a varsity football game.

He was in a Jeep with three of his friends and a parent when a white SUV slammed into them, according to Galveston police.

Mason Nelson, 14, was killed and two teens remain in the hospital still fighting for their lives.

"These are real people. These are good kids," Coza said. "Their lives are always going to be forever changed."

The driver of the SUV, 28-year-old Keith Brazier, has been charged with murder. Records show he was released from prison hours earlier on parole. He was sentenced to three years behind bars in December 2021 for his third DWI conviction.

SEE MORE: Suspected drunk driver charged in 14-year-old's death after crash in Galveston, police say

"Our Galveston Police Department did an amazing job, and this man in particular who hit the kids is a career criminal, and GPD did their job. They arrested him over and over, and the state let him out," Coza said.

ABC13 reached out to the parole board on Tuesday and got answers about why Brazier was granted an early release.

According to Tim McDonnell, the chief of staff for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Brazier became eligible for parole in January and was reviewed by a panel of three in March. The Huntsville board granted his early release pending a three-month rehabilitation program.

Brazier's conditions upon release included not operating a motor vehicle without an ignition interlock device and attendance in a DWI offender program.

While McDonnell would not comment on whether he agrees with the board's decision, he said they will go back and look at the case to make sure there is anything the board can do to prevent this from happening in the future.

SEE MORE: System 'failed' boy killed in DWI crash involving parolee, parent says

Ball High School parents are spending the Monday after a 14-year-old's death explaining to their children why one of their classmates died.

Coza says three months is not long enough for a repeat offender and believes that decision made by the board failed the kids involved. She is now dedicated to turning her frustration into action and pushing for change.

"We need more resources," Coza said. "We are a small town. We are about 50,000 people. We get a giant influx of people everyday between people who work here, visit here, and cruise here. We are Houston's playground, and we need more resources. This is a far-reaching situation and the act of one selfish person has impacted us for a lifetime."

According to Galveston's police chief, there are currently 168 sworn officers. The department has 18 to 19 sworn officers per patrol shift. All are responsible for responding to calls for service, traffic enforcement, and proactive patrol. There are 18 vacancies, and the sheriff says they are actively recruiting and hiring as many officers as possible.

The department issued this statement in wake of the island's most recent drunk driving fatality:

"In addition, we have officers assigned to the Traffic Safety Unit specifically seeking unsafe drivers committing traffic offenses. Targeting unsafe driving often results in the apprehension of impaired drivers. Our goal is to relentlessly pursue unsafe and impaired drivers. The department has allocated TXDOT STEP Grant funding towards this initiative for off duty personnel to add as many law enforcement officer resources as possible to this effort. Active manpower focused on traffic safety varies from day to day based on needs. The Galveston Police Department is focusing its efforts by utilizing a data driven approach. However, traffic safety units targeting unsafe and impaired driving are operating 24 hours per day, every day of the year."

Meanwhile, a vigil was held at Ball High on Tuesday night in honor of Mason's memory.

SEE ALSO: Family calls for change after losing loved ones in golf cart crash: 'Drunk driving has to stop'

The first of three recent Galveston DWI crashes involved the deaths of four family members on a golf cart, including two children. A month since then, a lawsuit has been filed against two establishments alleged to have served the suspect driver the day of the crash.

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