ECTOR COUNTY, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- An Odessa man was arrested early Friday morning after investigators said he was allegedly intoxicated behind the wheel and caused a crash that killed his passenger. Mario Lopez-Valdez, 30, has been charged with Intoxication Manslaughter.
According to a Texas Department of Public Safety report, around 12:50 a.m. on May 26, troopers responded to the scene of a single vehicle crash on State Loop 338, about two and half miles south of Odessa. Investigators said the driver of a Chevrolet Impala was traveling south on the loop near mile marker 252 when he failed to maintain a single lane and veered off the west side roadway and struck a fence.
Preliminary reports identified the driver of that vehicle as 51-year-old Luis Carlos Lujan-Gameros, of Odessa, and said he died at the scene. Lopez-Valdez was initially identified as a passenger and was taken to the hospital for treatment. At the hospital, investigators learned that Lopez-Valdez had a seatbelt mark on his left collar bone, which is consistent with being behind the wheel.
According to an arrest warrant, Lopez-Valdez later admitted he was driving and that Lujan-Gameros was actually the passenger. Lopez-Valdez allegedly told investigators that he had consumed six alcoholic beverages at a friend’s house prior to the crash and investigators said he was unable to perform a series of field sobriety tests.
Lopez-Valdez was arrested and taken to the Ector County Law Enforcement Center where he remained as of Tuesday afternoon on a $50,000 bond and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold.