SOUTH HOUSTON, Texas (FOX 26) - The teen charged with driving drunk and killing a young mother on Sunday was in court this morning, and he isn’t the only one being charged. Several employees of a South Houston bar are now also under arrest.
Five workers from the Frontera Events Venue Bar and Grill were taken out of the building in handcuffs this afternoon in connection with that fatal crash that killed 23-year-old Taylor Phillips just a few blocks from the bar.
Those workers include Gustavo Tejada-Garcia charged with Possession of an Unauthorized Beverage, Anna Evelyn Lule charged with Making Alcohol Available to a Minor, Mildred “Milly” Garcia charged with Making Alcohol Available to a Minor, Jazely Barrera charged with Selling Alcohol to a Minor and Joaquin Gonzalez charged with Making Alcohol Available to a Minor.
"Did you serve alcohol to the teenager, sir?” Reporter Damli Keith asked Frontera Bar and Grill General Manager Tejada-Garcia and he shook his head "no" as he was placed in the back of the police car.
"If you’re saying you didn’t, do you know why you’re being arrested?” Reporter Damali Keith asked. “No,” he answered.
The bar is licensed to sell beer and wine, but investigators say they were also serving liquor Sunday when, according to detectives, 19-year-old Erick Hernandez spent six hours there drinking before causing a fatal wreck less than a mile away.
"Part of what we observed in the surveillance footage is that a number of servers, while serving him alcohol, also consumed alcohol with him in the form of shots of tequila and other things,” explains Sean Teare, head of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Vehicular Crimes Unit. In addition to the GM, four servers were also arrested.
"It was obvious he knew a number of people who worked here. When he walked in, he was greeted with hugs, handshakes,” adds Teare, who says Hernandez crossed several lanes of traffic on College Avenue in the City Of South Houston and slammed head on into a black SUV killing 23-year-old Taylor Phillips and injuring Taylor's 1-year-old baby and her mom Carmen Rainer. The family was less than five minutes from home after traveling to Louisiana for the weekend.
"Literally one minute after (Hernandez) left (the bar) he took the life of Ms. Phillips. One minute,” says Teare.
Hernandez made his first court appearance where he learned he can’t drive while out of jail on a $30,000 bond, he must use an alcohol detecting device 24 hours a day and has a curfew.
The bar has had two TABC violations in a little more than a year. Now, this.
"The rest of the permitees around the state do it responsibly. This is one of the ones that have chosen to go in a different direction,” says TABC Investigator Allan Wallace.
The owner of the bar hasn’t been charged. The four servers arrested include two 19-year-olds and two 21-year-olds. They face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine if found guilty.