19 people killed on Harris County roads in 4 days

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The death toll from the past four days on Harris County roads increased overnight.

The count stood at 16 people on Sunday night. By Monday, it increased to at least two more.

Juan Almanza, 36, is charged with intoxication manslaughter and intoxicated assault. He is accused of driving the wrong way on I-45 north of downtown Houston, hitting a car, killing the driver.

Another man was killed in an unrelated crash when his car struck a tree. An autopsy will determine whether he had a medical condition, or was intoxicated.

During the weekend, five people were killed in two separate wrong-way crashes. Alcohol impairment is suspected in both incidents.

"We had 19 people die on Harris County roads in four days," said Sean Teare, a prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney's Vehicular Crimes Division. "That's unacceptable in two months."

The confluence of St Patrick's Day, the end of the Houston Rodeo season, spring break, and the Texas 2K street racing event in Baytown was a concern for law enforcement when it instituted a 'no refusal weekend,' which means no one can refuse a breathalyzer or blood draw to test for alcohol impairment.

In all, there were 287 DWI arrests in Harris County from Thursday through Sunday, about 30 more than last year.

Another set of numbers revealed that DWI cases with a child in the car more than doubled over the same period last year, as did intoxication assault cases.

Law enforcement was also focusing on illegal street racing during the weekend. Twenty-three arrests for racing were made, but there was also a focus on finding out where the racers were meeting up, then stopping the races before they started.

Even so, a race in northwest Harris County was held, with spectators lining Houston Oaks Street near an office park. It ended when one of the racing cars veered off the street, hitting a truck, and a 19-year-old boy. He remains in ICU.

The driver has been identified, and evidence is being collected.

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