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Officer testifies in accused drunken driver's trial

Suspect left scene driving on only rims

SAN ANTONIO - A police officer who stopped a woman suspected of running down a mother and her two little girls in their front yard described the traffic stop as the most bizarre in his career.

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San Antonio police Patrolman David Neal said that he spotted a car travelling about 50 mph on Loop 1604 billowing smoke on the evening of April 23, 2009.

“It appeared that a car was on fire," said Neal. “I blasted my air horn and the vehicle just kept travelling until it finally pulled over.”

He said Julie Ann Bronson, 45, was behind the wheel.

“I smelled a strong odor of alcohol and she had slurred speech,” Neal testified.

Bronson was arrested and charged with intoxication assault and leaving the scene of an accident.

Her car jumped a curb on Rogers Ranch Parkway and struck Traci Lopez and her two daughters who were working in their yard, investigators said.

The youngest child, 18-month-old Ava Lopez, suffered serious head injuries. Her mother and sister also were injured.

Neal testified that Bronson was driving on only the rims of the tires on the left side of her Mercedes convertible. The tires apparently had blown out when she jumped the curb before striking the victims.

He said, “I see on the front windshield there ... looks like a mark and the windshield was shattered there.”

That mark, prosecutors suggested, was made when the child’s head hit the car as she was flipped into the air on impact.

On Monday, Bronson plead guilty to charges of intoxication assault and leaving the scene of an accident.

The jury in her trial in 290th district court is to decide punishment. She is facing a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison. 

Bronson has applied for probation.


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