Driver charged in connection to fatal crash that killed 3 family members receives $800K bond
HOUSTON – The driver accused of causing a deadly, fiery crash that claimed the lives of three family members in northwest Harris County appeared in court Tuesday.
Gregory Smith was charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of assault on a peace officer, according to Harris County Constable Precinct 4. On Tuesday, a judge set a $200,000 bond for each of Smith’s charges, resulting in a bond of $800,000.
During Smith’s first appearance, Attorney Sean Teare with the district attorney’s office said Smith was a danger to the community. Teare said he is working to upgrade the manslaughter charges to felony murder. Teare said if Smith is convicted of three counts of intoxication manslaughter, he could face 70 years behind bars. If he’s convicted of felony murder, he could face life.
“Right now, what we have is three charges of intoxication manslaughter, as I said in court, those charges are likely to be upgraded in the next week to 10 days,” Teare said.
Ryan Savoy is Smith’s defense attorney. Savoy said Smith has been in and out of mental clinics for schizophrenia and hasn’t gotten the help he needs, so he self-medicated with PCP.
“He believes that this is exactly what it was, an accident, a tragic accident, and once again, he’s very remorseful. He’s torn up about the loss of life,” Savoy said.
Two adults and a baby died in the crash and four people were hospitalized, officials said.
Officials said a driver in a silver SUV, who was later identified as Smith, blew past a red light heading south on Antoine Drive at Beltway 8 hitting a black SUV and then a minivan, which burst into flames.
There was a family of four in the minivan, Constable Mark Herman said in a press conference. An 11-year-old girl was ejected from the vehicle on impact and had to be hospitalized. The girl’s grandmother, mother and baby brother died inside the burning van, Herman said.
Constable Herman said that in the last couple of years, Smith has been “filed on” 14 times. Seven of those charges have been dismissed. Smith was arrested a few months ago for driving while intoxicated under the influence of PCP but was out on bond. He was also accused of assaulting a police officer, Constable Herman said. These cases are pending.
“As a law enforcement officer, this is one of the most horrific accidents I’ve seen in quite some time," Constable Herman said. “What makes it even more difficult for me to comprehend is that this individual is a career criminal.”
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