SAN ANTONIO – A 30-year-old woman is facing an intoxication manslaughter charge after driving drunk and crashing into a patrol unit at a high rate of speed, killing a 36-year-old man and injuring several others, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said Thursday.
On Dec. 22, deputies received a call for a stranded motorist on I-10 near Leon Springs. The motorist was traveling with his wife and daughter through Texas from Arizona, on their way to Florida.
The family’s vehicle had been hit by another car, and the man called 911 to report that they had been involved in a crash, Salazar said.
A deputy arrived at the scene of the crash to help with traffic while a tow truck was loading up the vehicle. The deputy parked off the road about 75 feet behind the tow truck, Salazar said.
The married couple’s daughter and the deputy were in the deputy’s patrol car while the vehicle was being loaded up on the tow truck, Salazar said.
Salazar said Natalie Suzanne Saldana, 30, was traveling down the same road in her vehicle at about 90 mph and struck the deputy’s patrol car from behind.
The patrol car was sent flying about 75 feet into the tow truck, Salazar said. He said at one point, the patrol car flipped and landed on top of the man and his wife, pinning them underneath.
One victim was treated at the scene. The 36-year-old man was airlifted to University Hospital. He has since died as a result of his injuries, Salazar said.
The death led to an upgraded charge for Saldana from intoxication assault to intoxication manslaughter, Salazar said.
The deputy and the daughter, who were also in the patrol car, suffered minor injuries, Salazar said.
“They were injured, but not nearly to the extent that they could have been,” the sheriff said.
Saldana also had minor injuries after the crash.
He said Saldana had left a bar before the crash, where she had been drinking several beverages that contained hard liquor.
“Her legal troubles have only just begun at this point,” Salazar said.
The sheriff did not disclose Saldana’s blood alcohol content.
Saldana does not have a criminal history, Salazar said.
“Just one night of indiscretion, one bad decision to get behind the wheel ... she’s affected a lot of people’s lives much worse,” Salazar said. “It was due to one silly decision on her part."
NOTE: A previous version of this story erroneously stated the man who was killed was sitting inside the patrol unit. The story has since been edited.