Keep Dallas Observer Free

BREAKING NEWS: They Caught the White Truck Killer

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."

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

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)

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.