HOUSTON – Five bar employees were arrested Wednesday after being accused of serving alcohol to the 19-year-old accused in a deadly crash earlier this week.
Just minutes after leaving the Servi-Car El 3 bar on Houston Blvd. early Monday morning, Erick Hernandez swerved into an SUV on College Avenue, killing Taylor Phillips, a young mother who was behind the wheel.
"This family should be celebrating the holiday, but is instead planning a funeral," Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. "This tragedy should never have happened."
Prosecutors claim servers gave Hernandez, 19, more than a dozen drinks during the six hours he spent at the bar.
"All five of them either served or permitted to be served drinks to Erick Hernandez Sunday over a six-hour period," Sean Teare, chief of the vehicular crimes division in the Harris County District Attorney's Office, said Wednesday.
Investigators said Hernandez left the bar at 10:49 p.m. Sunday, and swerved across three lanes before smashing into Phillips' vehicle at 10:51 p.m.
"Literally one minute after he left (the bar), he took the life of Ms. Phillips," Teare said. "Right now there are Christmas presents under a tree for a mother who will never open them, a child who will never know his mother because of the irresponsible actions of all six individuals charged in this tragedy."
Agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and South Houston police officers arrested the five on Wednesday.
Bartenders Mildred Garcia and Anna Evelyn Lula are charged with making alcohol available to a minor and sale to intoxicated person.
Jazely Marie Barrera is charged with sale of alcohol to a minor.
Jaquin Gonzalez is charged with making alcohol available to a minor.
Manager Gustavo Tejada-Garcia is charged with possession of an unauthorized beverage because prosecutors said the bar had tequila present despite being only authorized to sell beer and wine.
"I wasn't there that night," Tejada-Garcia said to KPRC2 cameras.
The bar employees are accused of sharing shots from a bottle of tequila with Hernandez, who was at the bar drinking for six hours, according to prosecutors.
"We have been over the surveillance footage from the moment he walked into the bar to the moment he left, and he didn't show his identification at one point throughout the entire time," Teare said.
Phillips, 23, was killed, and her mother and 1-year-old son were injured in the crash.
"Mr. Hernandez now no longer can drive. As part of bond conditions, he has to have a scram device which is a 24-hour, seven days a week monitoring for alcohol, and he has a curfew. He has to be in his home by 9 p.m. and can't leave before 5 a.m.," Teare said.
Hernandez is charged with intoxication manslaughter. He appeared in court Wednesday, and his bond was set at $30,000.