HOUSTON – Four people, including a bartender, have been charged for their alleged roles in a drunk driving crash that killed a woman and her 3-month-old baby.
The driver, 20-year-old Veronica Rivas, was indicted earlier this week for two counts of intoxication manslaughter.
Now, a bartender, the son of a bar owner and another adult are charged with allegedly serving Rivas margaritas and tequila on the night of the Feb. 28 crash.
“Those who fuel carnage caused by drunk driving are legally responsible and the community will determine the cost of their actions,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “Serving or offering someone alcohol is a consequential responsibility.”
The case marks the first prosecution for a new District Attorney’s Office task force that starts its work at crash scenes and traces events backward to find the source of the alcohol.
Rivas was driving a Lincoln MKX at 90 mph when, police say, she slammed into a Toyota Scion driven by Shayla Joseph, 36. Joseph’s son, Braylan Jabari Joseph, sat behind her in a child-safety seat.
The crash occurred along a Gulf Freeway feeder, near the intersection of I-45 and El Dorado, at approximately 3:50 a.m.
Prior to the crash, Rivas and her 17-year-old friend, had sat at the bar and were given tequila at Crescent City Connection Sports & Oyster Bar, according to the Harris County DA's office.
Devin Jackson, 24, son of the bar’s owner, is charged with knowingly purchasing and providing alcohol to a minor. Texas law prohibits the sale of alcohol to those under 21.
John C. Medina, 23, is also charged with purchasing and providing alcohol to a minor. The Class A Misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Medina was also charged with aggravated perjury for lying to a grand jury. That charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Amy L. Allen, 40, a bartender, is charged with acting with criminal negligence by permitting Rivas and the 17-year-old to drink alcohol at Crescent City. That includes not checking their IDs. The charge carries a penalty of up to one year in jail.
“Sadly, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show that Harris County leads the country in alcohol-related fatalities,” Vehicular Crimes Division Chief Sean Teare said. That dynamic will be changed by evidence-based prosecution that holds everyone involved criminally responsible, Teare said.
“One night of reckless partying resulted in a lifetime of loss for Bryan Joseph, who lost his wife and son,” Teare said. “We owe Mr. Joseph, Shayla Joseph and young Braylan justice, and that includes not just holding Veronica Rivas responsible, but every person who had a hand in setting this tragedy in motion.”
If convicted, Rivasd faces up to 40 years in prison.