Bartender overserved man before crash that killed 4 vacationers, Texas officials say

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A bartender has been arrested after Texas officials say he overserved a man before a fatal crash that killed four vacationers visiting Galveston Island.

The crash happened around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 6, and police identified 45-year-old Miguel Espinoza as the driver that caused the collision. He faces four counts of intoxicated manslaughter with a vehicle in the the crash that killed four family members — Felipe Bentancur, 49; Destiny Uvalle, 25; Brailyn Cantu, 14 and Kaisyn Bentancur, 4.

KHOU reported that Destiny was the niece of Felipe Bentancur, and the two children were his grandchildren.

Espinoza is accused of running a stop sign while driving an SUV and crashing into a pickup truck and golf cart, Galveston police Sgt. Derek Gaspard said. The four fatal victims were in the golf cart, as well as two others who suffered critical injuries, according to Gaspard.

“This is a terrible situation, and the Galveston Police Department is very disturbed by this incident,” the sergeant said in a news briefing streamed by i45NOW.

Espinoza remains in the Galveston jail and is awaiting trial.

Nearly two months after the crash, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission says a bartender “improperly served” Espinoza. Gil Garcia, a 58-year-old bartender at Gloria’s Lounge in Galveston, was arrested and charged with selling alcohol to an intoxicated person, officials announced on Wednesday, Sept. 28.

If convicted, Garcia faces up to a year in jail and the bar could face disciplinary action from the commission.

“This tragic case illustrates why it’s so important that alcohol retailers take steps to prevent sales to customers who show signs of intoxication,” TABC Executive Director Thomas Graham said. “Businesses can help prevent deadly crashes by following the law and educating employees on how to identify signs of intoxication. Businesses that are found to have contributed to serious injury or loss of life will be held accountable.”

Gloria’s Lounge declined to comment in a request by KTRK. An attorney for the Bentancur family said the family members “are glad the case is on the road to justice,” KTRK reported.

Surviving members of the family filed a lawsuit against Espinoza and a separate bar about a mile away from Gloria’s Lounge, according to KPRC. Attorneys say Espinoza was excessively served alcohol at Float Pool and Patio Bar before the crash, but Texas ABC officials have not cited the bar.

In a statement to KPRC, the Bentancur family said each death was “a senseless tragedy.”

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