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A 24-year-old Texas motorist accused of drunkenly mowing down another man pushing a shopping cart went to grab a beer after the deadly collision with the victim's body in his car, police said.
Paul Joseph Garcia allegedly crashed into a pedestrian and drove approximately half a mile to a beer garden on the city’s south side with the dead man’s body inside his vehicle, the Associated Press reported. The 24-year-old man was charged with second-degree intoxication manslaughter and accident involving injury, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com.
An allegedly inebriated Garcia — who authorities say was also covered in blood — stumbled barefoot into an Austin beer garden sometime around 10 p.m. on Saturday. He “caught the attention of the other patrons” and he was denied service, according to an affidavit obtained by the Austin American-Statesman. He was later detained by officers after failing to pass a sobriety test.
Law enforcement then made a gruesome discovery after locating the man’s car. Inside Garcia’s 2014 Ford Focus, authorities found the maimed corpse of 55-year-old pedestrian Lee Martin Cagle. The man appeared to have flown through Garcia’s windshield and landed in the front seat of the man’s vehicle, police said, according to KTBC.
Garcia drove “for one-half miles with a mangled corpse in the vehicle,” the affidavit alleged, according to KVUE.
Authorities believe Cagle had been walking southbound pushing a shopping cart on the right side of the Menchaca Road in Austin at the time Garcia allegedly slammed into him.
“The impact with the vehicle pushed the cart into a cluster of mailboxes with enough force to bend a two-inch diameter, galvanized steel post that supported mailboxes,” the affidavit stated.
The interior of the Ford was “coated” in “blood and body tissue,” authorities said. Severed body parts and other debris scattered along the road where the fatal collision allegedly occurred were also recovered by investigators.
Witnesses claimed to have seen a white Ford matching the description of Garcia’s car strike a man near a roadway called Slaughter Lane earlier that evening, KVUE reported. Onlookers stated the car had allegedly been traveling at a dangerous speed without its headlights on. Police also said there were no brake marks at the scene of the collision, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Officials said they suspect Garcia had been drinking at a number of watering holes prior to the deadly crash.
“The investigation will seek to determine whether those businesses served alcohol to an intoxicated customer prior to the crash,” the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, who are also investigating the incident, said in a statement this week, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Restaurants or bars that served Garcia while he was visibly intoxicated could face a fine of more than $7,000 or a suspension of their liquor license, the agency added.
A spokesperson for the South Austin Beer Garden, the tap house where Garcia was arrested following the crash, wasn’t immediately available for comment this week.
Garcia is being held at a Travis County correctional facility on a $110,000 bond, records show. It’s unclear if the 24-year-old has retained legal counsel.
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