HOUSTON – A man and his dog died after being struck by a vehicle at an apartment complex in west Houston, according to police.
The father of the underage driver is now charged in connection with the incident.
Police said a father let his 12-year-old daughter drive an SUV at the Wilshire Apartments near the intersection of Fountain View Drive and Richmond Avenue.
The teen hit the wrong pedal and struck a 40-year-old man and his dog, according to police.
"Apparently, she pulled out and made a mistake and hit the gas instead of the brake and struck the gentleman that was walking his dog," Lt. Thurston Roberson, with the Houston Police Department, said.
The man died at the scene and the dog later died, authorities said.
What officials are saying
"It’s a tragic crash. It’s a tragic incident and happens all too often in our community," Sean Teare, chief of the Harris County District Attorney's Office, said.
Teare said the teen shouldn't have been allowed to drive at the location.
"You can’t allow a young child to drive in a populated place," Teare said.
According to prosecutors with the Harris County District Attorney Vehicular Crimes Unit the child’s father, 42-year-old Tomas Mejia, was charged with criminally negligent homicide and endangering a child on Friday.
The two-state jail felonies could mean punishment for up to six months to two years in prison.
"It’s never OK to let a 12-year-old drive a car. Twelve years old is way too young even if a parent is in the seat. We charged him because he was criminally liable," said Lynn Nguyen, with the Harris County District Attorneys Vehicular Crimes unit.
Mejia is due to make his first court appearance Friday night.
What people are saying
People in the area believe Mejia should be held responsible.
"That’s sad, that’s very sad. Especially if it’s a 12-year-old. She shouldn’t have been driving," Julie Armstrong said. "The adult should be responsible for letting a child drive because she shouldn’t have been driving at all."