Grandfather killed in crash by repeat DWI offender: police

Thursday, September 5, 2019
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Jose Almanza (right) was killed when John Vasquez (left) slammed his Ford F-150 into the back of a gold Ford Taurus, which was stopped on the side of 610 South Loop.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston family is heartbroken. They say their loved one, 56-year-old Jose Almanza, was killed by an alleged drunk driver on 610 South Loop.

The crash happened around 7:20 p.m. Tuesday at 1100 South Loop West near FM 521. The driver, 60-year-old John Richard Vasquez, is charged with felony murder after having multiple previous DWI convictions.

Almanza leaves behind a wife, four children, five grandchildren, and eight brothers and sisters.

"He was a very caring person, loving," said Jose Herrera, Almanza's nephew.

Herrera said for Almanza, family was everything. In fact, Almanza's nephew says his uncle was so generous that he helped his family with a house after they moved to Houston.

"We didn't have a place to live so he gave us a hand, a big hand," Herrera said.

Tuesday evening, prosecutors say Almanza was pulled over on the shoulder, changing a tire, when out of nowhere an alleged drunk driver crashed into Almanza's car.

Prosecutors say Vasquez's murder charge comes because Vasquez already had previous DWI convictions.

"This is a habitual offender of DWI and anyone, in my mind, who has more than one conviction for a DWI is a ticking time bomb, that is just a matter of time before they get behind the wheel and take one of the people in our community's lives," said Sean Teare, chief of Vehicular Crimes at the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

In fact, Vasquez was out on parole for a DWI when he crashed into Almanza's car. Court records say he smelled like alcohol and they found a bottle of liquor in his vehicle.

Almanza's nephew hopes this tragedy makes others think twice before getting behind the wheel after they've had too much to drink.

"It's hard for us. We just want you to be back with us," Herrera said.

The family is working to pay for funeral expenses and costs to get all of his family back to Houston. A GoFundMe has been launched to help the family.

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