Bartender arrested 2 years after customer killed teen in DUI crash

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SACK Coalition Member, Drunk Driving Awareness Advocate and current Mora Above the Influence Student Adviser, Christine Sand reacts to a story about a Houston, TX bartender who was recently arrested two years after customer she served hit and killed teen in DUI crash. 

“I was told I could ‘sue’ the last establishment that the driver who hit me was at, similar to this story. However, I chose not too. The process can be a long drawn-out fight to prove. I am happy that someone was able to use this means and get positive results for the victims. 

Instead, I chose to help pass an additional ordinance in Kanabec County, the City of Mora and Ogilvie commonly refereed to as Responsible Beverage Server Training (RBST). This additional addendum to the Liquor ordinance ensures that all establishments, that serve alcohol, within the country have their employees trained on an annual basis on the ‘responsible serving of alcohol’.

Suing ultimately proves a point, if won it can provide funds for the victims and their families. But suing can not take away what happened. By having an ordinance passed, my hope is that the very least, one family can be be spared the pain and suffering that my family has gone through. By opening the eyes of servers and establishments and telling them it is okay to turn someone away. The likelihood that everyone makes it home safer goes way up!”

Bartender Arrested video and article from Kare 

HOUSTON — A bartender, who investigators say served the man convicted in the fatal DUI crash of Jocelyn Valero, was arrested Wednesday.

On May 15, 2016, Valero was on her way home from prom when Edin Palacios-Rodas, who was driving drunk and fleeing from police, crashed into the car she was in and killed her.

Sean Teare, Chief of the Harris County District Attorney Vehicular Crimes Division, says before the crash, Rodas was drinking at El Muelle Seafood restaurant in north Houston and was over-served by Natalia Ortiz.

“We observed him being served between 11 and 12 beers in about 2-and-a-half hours,” Teare explained.

Teare said Palacios-Rodas was so drunk, he had a hard time standing.

Ortiz was arrested at work Wednesday and appeared to have no idea one of her customers two years ago killed a teenager after leaving her service.

While Ortiz was in the back of a patrol car, KHOU 11 News reporter Lauren Talarico asked Ortiz if she had anything to say to the Valero family.

“Who is the Valero family?” Ortiz asked. “I don’t understand anything. What is happening?”

The DA’s Office says Wednesday’s arrest is just the start of a long line of ones to come as they investigate older crash cases.

“We are going to hold everyone responsible that had anything to do with these crashes going forward,” Teare said.

Ortiz’s arrest is not just a warning to the service industry but to everyone.

“Anybody who is serving alcohol,” said investigator Chuck Cornelius with the DA Vehicular Crimes Division. “Whether it’s at a location or a party at a house or apartment complex. We have a huge problem in Harris County. Harris County leads the state and the country in alcohol related fatalities.”

As we go into prom and graduation season especially, where plenty of parties are planned, Teare hopes everyone understands their message that you don’t have to be holding the keys to get locked up.

“It’s a great responsibility to serve alcohol to individuals, and if you do that, you have to do it responsibly, and if you don’t, we’re going to come get you,” Teare said.

The liquor violation charge Ortiz is facing is a misdemeanor, but she’s also facing a third-degree felony charge for using someone else’s social security number.

Posted in News/Announcements.