Alleged drunk driver charged in deadly wrong-way crash near Memorial Park

Young victim was with friends when she was killed

By Mark Boyle - Reporter

HOUSTON - An alleged drunk driver was arrested and charged in a deadly wrong-way crash on the Katy Freeway near Memorial Park early Tuesday morning.

Michael Etheridge was headed home with two friends. One was in the front seat and 20-year-old Claudia Ontiveros was in the back.

Etheridge told Local 2 he was on I-10 near T.C. Jester Boulevard when he thought something looked out of place.

"I was in the middle lane and all of a sudden I see headlights coming from the wrong way.  I thought it was a reflection and all of the sudden we get hit and start spinning around," Etheridge explained.

Ontiveros, who was in the back seat, initially survived the crash, but later died at Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital.

"She's my only daughter. I'm a single parent with three sons. I don't, I wouldn't wish this upon anybody. She was my helper, she was my baby," said her mother, Claudia Rodriguez.

She said her daughter had big plans. She wanted to join the Army, and use her pay to help buy a home for her mother and three brothers.

Family members gathered to lend each other support. Ontiveros' aunt says the hardest part is knowing how her niece died.

"Young woman, 20 years old, for someone to have done that, very irresponsible. In my opinion needs to be harder laws on people like that," said the victim's aunt, Monica Ontiveros.

The wrong-way driver, identified as 26-year-old Brittini Kressin, kept going down the freeway until she arrived near Washington Avenue where she finally stopped.

Officials said Kressin did not have her headlights on and a man on a motorcycle hit her head-on.

He was thrown from his bike and suffered a broken leg.

Houston police said Kressin got on the freeway going in the wrong direction at North Durham Drive. She was headed west in the eastbound lanes at the time of the crash.

Police told Local 2, Kressin did not realize she as going the wrong way when she was taken into custody.

"We're so sorry. I can't imagine what these people are going through," said Kressin's' grandmother, Sylvia Warfield.

Warfield told Local 2 that she wanted to apologize to Ontiveros' family.

Warfield said, "My heart, my heart goes out to this family. Believe me, it does. And I know Brittini, she's going to be devastated about it too. We've prayed and we've prayed for the family this morning when I was at my bible class."

Police said Kressin was transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital for minor injuries. She was taken into custody and then to jail after exhibiting signs of being intoxicated.

An online profile shows Kressin mixing what appeared to be a drink. Kressin's grandmother said to her knowledge, her grandaughter had not had an alcoholic drink in a long time.

Warfield said, "That's all I ask is for them to forgive us because I know Brittini didn't mean for this to happen. She'd have never have done it."

Brittini Kressin has been charged with intoxication manslaughter, but Claudia Rodriguez takes no comfort from that.

"I can't bring my daughter back by giving this lady time. Whatever. I just let it be and let God do what he has to do. I'm out of faith, I'm out of words, I'm upset," Rodriguez said.

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