La Porte firefighter charged after truck hits house; apologizes, says he'll resign

By Cathy Hernandez - Reporter, Sophia Beausoleil - Reporter

LA PORTE, Texas - No one was hurt after a volunteer firefighter, who was firefighter of the year, crashed into a kitchen and child’s bedroom on the Fourth of July.

La Porte police arrested the firefighter and charged him with driving while intoxicated and unlawfully carrying a weapon.

Police said he was on his way to a fire call.

“I apologize to the family and I apologize to the fire department,” said Blake Stevens, 31, as he walked out of the La Porte jail.

Stevens posted his $1,500 bond and left the jail Wednesday afternoon.

He walked briskly with his bondsman as reporters asked him questions. He wouldn’t say if he was drinking Tuesday night but said he’s sorry for what happened.

RAW VIDEO: La Porte firefighter crashes pickup into house

“Hurt, sore, glad nobody else got hurt,” responded Stevens when asked how he was feeling about what happened. “I’m going to resign from the fire department for giving them a bad name.”

Investigators said Stevens smelled of alcohol and that he admitted to drinking before the crash.

The crash was reported about 10:45 p.m. Tuesday at a home in the 500 block of Shady Lane.

Police said Stevens was on his way to a reported fire when he lost control of his truck and slammed into the home.

Witnesses said Stevens was speeding when his truck jumped a ditch, crashed through a steel fence and slammed into a bedroom of the home.

"It sounded like the house was kinda blowing up," homeowner Glen Lindblade said.

Lindblade said he was in the shower when he heard his daughter scream at the top of her lungs and felt the house shake.

He said the truck ended up in his 6-year-old son's bedroom. His son, Zander, was asleep in another room 30 minutes before the crash happened.

"This could've been a whole lot worse. I feel very blessed," Lindblade said. "My son asked to sleep with my other son last night and I'm really glad he did because otherwise he would've been sleeping in that bed."

No one in the home was injured.

Lindblade said he went outside and saw Stevens disoriented, standing next to his truck.

"I came out very angry and I approached him. He was, like, 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry,'" Lindblade said.

Police said that during the investigation, Stevens showed signs of intoxication and was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and unlawful carrying of a weapon. Though Stevens has a license to carry a weapon, his arrest on suspicion of DWI made it unlawful for him to possess the firearm, police said.

Stevens joined the La Porte Volunteer Fire Department in 2015.

His friends said Stevens was named the department's Firefighter of the Year in 2016.

"He tries really hard to make an impact on the community. Since I've known him, he's a really hard-working guy," friend J.D. Raya said.

Raya and his wife, Megan, live with Stevens.

They said he went to a friend’s house July 4, then came home and watched fireworks with them but was not drinking with them.

“Last night, I did hear the alarm go off and he was out fast he could be,” explained Raya about Stevens, whom he’s known since high school.

“He was in a rush obviously, adrenaline was pumping like always, but he seemed focused trying to get all his gear ready. They had been working on the truck, so his gear was in the house, so that took a little bit of extra time,” Raya said.

The roommates said that over the weekend, they worked on Stevens' truck’s steering and suspension. They initially thought that’s what caused the crash.

“That’s the first thing that popped into my mind, not knowing what happened or what could have happened, one doesn’t really know,” Raya said. “I can’t believe it, I was in a lot of shock, like my husband said, all I thought was ‘Oh my gosh, what happened to the truck, did something go wrong when they were fixing it?'”

La Porte police said there’s no offense report indicating an issue with the vehicle.

“Unfortunately, he chose to consume alcoholic beverages and then respond to a fire, which is in direct violation of La Porte volunteer fire department policy,” explained Sgt. Bennie Boles with LLPD. “That was a choice he made and again that’s why we continually put that info out there.”

Neighbors, including Landblade, said they’ve complained about Stevens speeding.

“He’s always in a hurry, drives very, very fast. I get if you’re in a hurry, but driving fast every day?” Landblade said. “We’ve flagged him down, we’ve called the police, we’ve done everything we can to try to get this guy to calm down because there’s at least 10 kids on this street every day.”

Police said they did not have information at the time about past complaints on Stevens’ speeding.

Landblade said he and his family are staying at a friend’s house for now and will look for an apartment while crew repair the home.

“We have a hole in our house. This is just stuff, I don’t care about stuff.” Landblade said.

“It’s an amazing thing that the guy in the truck is OK. I don’t wish ill will on anybody,” Landblade said. “We need to have justice as far as what happened here. This is ridiculous. You don’t come through a residential street going about 100 miles an hour all the time and you don’t get drunk and do it to go on fire calls.”

Stevens was released from the LPPD jail on $1,500 bail.

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