56ºF

Teen killed in road rage crash in Liberty County, officials say

LIBERTY COUNTY, Texas – On Thursday afternoon, Cleveland Independent School District officials confirmed that the 17-year-old killed in an act of road rage would have been a senior starting next Monday.

The Liberty County Sheriff’s Office said around 8:50 p.m. on Wednesday, two young teens were traveling on County Road 3478B in the Montebello area in North Liberty County.

Investigators said another vehicle rear-ended their car, causing them to run off the road and flip over.

Johnathan Michael Perez, 17, died at the scene. His passenger, who called 911, had minor injuries and was taken to the hospital, but he was later released.

The Sheriff’s Office said the teen told investigators the car struck them from behind on purpose in an act of road rage.

“It’s (an) extremely sad incident, extremely bad for the parents. Our hearts go out to them,” said Capt. Ken DeFoor, with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. “For someone to be killed in such an incident is certainly rare.”

Deputies are looking for any information as to who the other driver was and what type of vehicle they were driving.

“This is to my knowledge the very first road rage type of incident -- if in fact this turns out to be what it is, and it appears to be at this present time -- the first one to my knowledge this has ever happened in Liberty County,” said DeFoor in regards to someone dying as a result of road rage.

A spokesperson for Cleveland ISD said Perez would have started his senior year next Monday. The district said the teen will be remembered for being a very good student.

“There is nothing that happens on these highways that’s worth anyone trying to get vengeance back against someone else in an automobile,” said DeFoor.

“We heard the sirens going off, we didn’t know what had happened,” said Enrique Ramirez, who was working in his garden at the time.

“It’s usually quiet, there’s more construction than anything going on this side,” explained Ramirez about the area where the crash happened.

The Sheriff’s Office said it happened in an area that’s currently under construction to become a new subdivision.

There are two straightaway roads where Ramirez said he can sometimes hear cars racing.

“Like I tell you, they come out here, it’s a speedway out here. Most of the time they be using this as a racing track,” said Ramirez about the open space near his home.

“In that particular area, we receive a number of calls out there. Several of the calls are theft, traffic going up and down that road, it’s a new subdivision with two others with no patrol signs out there,” said DeFoor. “It’s my understanding that that area out there is sometimes used for racing, so far we haven’t got that information (in regards to this case).”