Warrants issued for PA driver in crash that killed officer; local restaurant under investigation

Published 2:27 pm Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Warrants have been issued for a Port Arthur man in connection with the fatal head-on collision that killed a Beaumont Police officer and seriously injured a second officer.

Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 Place 2 Ben Collins Sr. signed the warrants for Luis Torres, 18, of Port Arthur on Wednesday.

Torres is facing an intoxication manslaughter charge with bond set at $500,000 and an intoxication assault charge with bond set at $250,000.

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Conditions of his bond require him to wear a GPS ankle monitor and use an ignition interlock device, Collins said. Torres was also driving without a license and was believed to be highly intoxicated and his blood alcohol content was .296.

Collins said DPS troopers were going to take Torres into custody on Wednesday.

TABC also investigating

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is conducting a source investigation into Tequila’s Mexican Bar and Grill in relation to the head-on collision.

Texas Department of Public Safety investigators believe the Port Arthur man was intoxicated when he was driving the wrong direction on U.S. 69, striking the Beaumont patrol unit head-on Sunday.

Chris Porter, public information officer for TABC, said the source investigation is an attempt to find the source of the alcohol and determine whether or not it was sold prior to the crash.

A manager who answered the phone at Tequila’s Wednesday afternoon said he was not authorized to speak on the matter, adding the owner was not at the restaurant.

The investigation will also reveal if someone sold the alcohol to an already intoxicated person or to a minor.

Should the business be in violation, it could face a civil penalty or a fine or suspension of its license to sell alcohol.

In addition, if there is an individual who sold the alcohol, whether a waiter or bartender, that person would face a misdemeanor criminal charge that could lead to a year in jail and/or a fine, Porter said.

Porter said the timeline for the investigation depends on how easily they receive the evidence and could last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

On Sunday, 23-year-old Officer Sheena Yarbrough-Powell and 28-year-old Officer Gabriel Fells were traveling northbound on Cardinal Drive near the Texas 347 overpass when they were struck head-on by a wrong way driver. Fells was transported to a hospital for severe injuries, underwent surgery and was released.

Yarbrough-Powell died at the scene.

Torres was taken by EMS from the scene and hospitalized.