SAN ANTONIO – The driver accused of crashing into San Fernando Cemetery No. 2 overnight Wednesday remains jailed under a $50,000 bond. Paul Daniel Rangel, 48, is charged with driving while intoxicated, but it is far from his first DWI arrest.
According to public records and the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, Rangel was placed on probation in 1991 for his first DWI offense.
Seven years later, after his second arrest, he was sentenced to four months in the Bexar County Jail.
Then in 2001, Rangel was arrested on a felony offense for his “third or more” DWI.
He was arrested a fourth time, then sentenced for the 2001 and 2005 cases to four years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Then in 2009, Rangel was arrested a fifth time and sentenced to six years, yet he was released in 2013.
“Oh, that’s bad. He shouldn’t be driving,” said Mary Helen Trevino when she learned of Rangel’s arrest record.
Richard Corpus, the cemetery’s manager, said Rangel practically drove straight into a headstone belonging to Trevino’s aunt, just beyond the fence and a tree that Rangel’s pickup truck knocked down. San Antonio police said before that, he’d already lost control and hit another driver.
“Some people never learn,” Corpus said.
He said even so, “We need to pray for them. It’s all we can do is pray for them.”
Corpus said the Archdiocese of San Antonio that oversees several cemeteries has given little thought so far, to somehow reinforcing the chain link fencing along South General McMullen and Castroville Road, one of the busiest intersections in that area.
“It wouldn’t be pretty,” Corpus said.
He said he’s concerned it would somehow detract from the West Side’s landmark cemetery that dates back to 1921.
“They need to slow down, otherwise we’re going to continue to have this problem,” Corpus said.
In October 2014, a group of young men who were street racing also crashed into the cemetery just up from where Rangel’s truck came to a stop.
“They flipped over several times,” Corpus said, taking out almost 20 headstones that were reduced to rubble.
So when he saw the aftermath of Rangel’s crash, Corpus said, “I was like, not again!”
But in the most recent case, he estimates the damage to be about $1,200, compared to the $18,000 it cost to replace the headstones in 2014.
Corpus said he was just relieved the crashes occurred after hours when no one was there paying their respects.
He said, “It’s our families that we care about.”