A while back I wrote about a motorcycle accident on 75 that killed two of my friends, Ernie and Elisa Santos.
Today I come bearing bittersweet news: The driver of the white pickup, whose recklessness was the first domino that caused the accident, has been arrested and charged with two counts of manslaughter. Doesn't bring my friends back, but at least their deaths are no longer punctuated with a question mark.
Richardson police have arrested 18-year-old Sterling Mitchell of Plano. This is why:
According to updated accident reports and a conversation I had this morning with Richardson Sergeant Kevin Perlich, a group including Mitchell and a group including Dallas' Michael Pyburn engaged in an altercation on September 18 inside the Verandah Grill and Lounge at 75 and Spring Valley. The disturbance spilled into the parking lot and, eventually, onto 75 north.
Mitchell, who had three passengers in his white Mitsubishi pickup, was spotted by a UPS tractor-trailer driver driving erratically on 75 around 2 a.m. and eventually stopped completely in the left-center lane, immediately in front of a black Lexus driven by Pyburn. In order to miss the truck, the Lexus swerved to the right, making fatal contact with a motorcycle ridden by Ernie and Elisa.
Inexplicably - and allegedly criminally - Mitchell commenced the chain-reaction of chaos and then drove away, fleeing the scene of a fatal accident he caused. Elisa died at the scene. Ernie passed away from his injuries the next afternoon.
Mitchell has since told police that he only slowed to 40 mph, and no witnesses have reported seeing reckless driving by Pyburn. The investigation, however, is ongoing.
"The actions of Mr. Mitchell led to the first, causative effects of the accident that killed the two victims," says officer Perlich. "His decision to stop on the highway was the first domino."
Ernie and Elisa left behind two daughters - ages 13 and 5. The support - both emotional and financial - has been heart-warming. In fact, today I'm going by the Dallas Scaregrounds haunted house at 35 and Oak Lawn to pick up money collected for the girls in a nightly donation jar through Halloween.
Though Mitchell's arrest is a positive step toward piecing together the tragic night that killed two good people and shook a family, Ernie's brother hopes it's not the final conclusion.
"You can't have road rage with just one driver," Hector Santos says. "It's baffling that the police aren't pursuing the driver of the Lexus. Hopefully that will happen. Hopefully at some point the whole truth will come out."
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If you want to donate funds to either of the daughters:
Bank of America
TX UTMA (Uniform Transfers to Minors Act)
Accounts: Loran Patterson (13) or Lacey Santos (5)