Intoxication manslaughter suspect has 3 prior DWI arrests

A 37-year-old Edinburg woman accused of driving drunk and hitting and killing a teenager — and seriously injuring another teen — told the Texas Department of Public Safety she was driving 50 mph in a 30 mph zone when she thought she had hit a dog, according to a probable cause affidavit.

DPS arrested Maricela Escobar on Sept. 6 after the fatal accident on Owassa Road and charged her with intoxication manslaughter, intoxication assault, failure to stop and render aid, resulting in death, and failure to stop and render aid, serious bodily injury. She remains jailed on a total of $205,000 in bonds, records show.

In a news release, DPS said 15-year-old Edinburg resident Liza Cavazos died after being hit and 14-year-old Donna resident Santiago Tapia sustained serious injuries.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Escobar fled the scene in the area of Owassa and Val Verde roads where DPS troopers found Cavazos’ body on the north side of Owassa.

“EMS arrived on scene shortly after where the female child victim was pronounced deceased. A second male victim was also struck by the vehicle causing serious bodily injury,” the affidavit states.

The two teens had been walking a dog along the roadway, according to a news release.

A DPS trooper caught up with the blue Chevrolet Tahoe, which witnesses saw hit the teens, in the area of Earling and Tower roads, the affidavit states.

“I asked Ms. Escobar about the incident. She stated that she was driving the blue Tahoe west on Owassa Rd. from Valverde (sic) Rd. at approximately 50 mph in a 30 mph zone. Ms. Escobar stated that she thought she hit a dog but continued driving,” according to the charging document.

DPS says Escobar said she had drank several beers from a 12-pack several hours before the crash.

“Ms. Escobar stated that she had not consumed any alcohol since the time of the crash,” the affidavit states.

Court records indicate Escobar has been arrested on drunk driving accusations three times, most recently in 2016. In that case, Escobar was admitted into DWI court and successfully completed the program on May 22, 2018. The case was dismissed after that, records show.

She was convicted of her second DWI on April 4, 2012, and was sentenced to one year in county jail. She received her first DWI conviction on Sept. 22, 2011, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.

A news release and probable cause affidavit indicates DPS obtained a warrant for a blood speciment and authorities allege she failed a series of standardized field sobriety tests and displayed signs of intoxication.