MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TX – The man who pleaded guilty to causing an alcohol-related wreck that killed a former Splendora firefighter and his wife and injured their two young daughters before fleeing the scene was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years in prison, the maximum allowed by law.
Alejandro Guzman-Lopez, 23, a Houston laborer, will not be eligible for parole for 20 years based on his convictions for multiple counts of intoxication manslaughter, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and failure to stop and render aid, Montgomery County prosecutors said in a news release.
Ex-Splendora firefighter Brad Frazier and his wife, Shea, both 21, were killed and their daughters, a 2-year-old toddler and 5-week-old infant, were injured when their Ford Explorer flipped over after being struck from behind by the Buick driven by Guzman-Lopez on May 17, 2015 on northbound U.S. 59 near Ipes Road in eastern Montgomery County, authorities said.
Guzman-Lopez, who was uninjured, left his wrecked car and ran until a bystander tackled himbehind a bar and held him for investigators. Lab tests showed he had twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system and he also tested positive for cocaine and marijuana.
Sean Allison, a 22-year-old ranch hand, was praised for being the “good Samaritan” who saw Guzman-Lopez fleeing the scene and chasing him down. He said Lopez smelled of alcohol and kept yelling that he “didn’t want to go to jail.’
“It’s one of the worst cases I’ve seen,” said prosecutor Tyler Dunman.
“These kids have recovered but will never know their mom and dad.”
After hearing a day of testimony, Guzman-Lopez decided to plead guilty and let the jury decide his punishment. He “pounded his chest and cried,” telling the jurors, “I’m sorry. I’m guilty,” said his attorney, Robert Bartlett of Conroe. “But the jurors had no sympathy for him and gave him the maximum punishment.”
Another strike against Lopez was that he was in the U.S. illegally after overstaying a visitation visa that should have ended in 2009, authorities said. Upon his parole, prosecutors said, Guzman-Lopez will be deported to his native Mexico.
However, Bartlett noted that the Explorer driven by the Frazier family was an older model that had been involved in lawsuits because it was prone to flipping. Guzman-Lopez struck the vehicle right on the back corner, causing it to spin and flip like in these other cases, he said.
Dunman pointed out that Guzman-Lopez had acknowledged drinking earlier in the day and driving at speeds of 100 mph.
Brad Frazier came from a long line of firefighters. His father had been a former firefighter and his brother a former chief.