HOUSTON—A 25-year-old Houston man was charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter late Monday in a crash that killed three teenage girls last week.
Prosecutors say Sajan Timalshina was drunk behind the wheel of a Toyota Camry when he ran a red light and smashed into a Ford Excursion on July 9.
The crash occurred around 1:30 a.m. as Timalshina was headed north on the Highway 59 feeder and the SUV, which was carrying two adults and five teenagers, was headed east on the Sam Houston Tollway feeder.
Two of the teen passengers – 13-year-old Avianca Cortez and 17-year-old Rashaunda Raleigh – were ejected from the SUV and died at the scene.
A third passenger, 13-year-old Detrihanna Davis, died the next day at the hospital. They were not wearing seatbelts, police said.
The other occupants of the car were taken to the hospital in serious condition and have since been released.
According to court documents, Timalshina failed field sobriety tests at the scene. When police asked for a voluntary blood sample, Timalshina refused, but officers were able to get an involuntary sample because the accident was fatal.
That sample was taken at Ben Taub about three and a half hours after the crash and registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.075, police said.
After performing a retrograde analysis of the sample, officers determined Timalshina’s blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident was between 0.127 and 0.162.
In Texas, a person whose blood-alcohol level is 0.08 or higher is legally intoxicated.
According to court documents, Timalshina gave a voluntary statement to officers after the crash, saying that he was driving his brother’s Camry, had worked a 16-hour day and was confused about where he was going because he was tired.
Timalshina told officers he’d seen a green light farther up the road and mistakenly thought it was the nearest signal when he ran the red light and hit the SUV.
In a second statement, Timalshina told police he’d had a 12 oz. Corona at his brother’s work just before 1 a.m., but he’d only consumed a fourth of the beer.
Police said a big-rig driver, who waiting at the red light at the time of the crash, saw the whole thing.
“When the light turned green, he noticed that the Toyota Camry traveling north was traveling at a high rate of speed and he felt that he wasn’t gonna stop so he stayed where he was at,” said HPD Sgt. I. Izaguirre. “But the Ford Excursion didn’t see that car…”
One of the surviving girls, 14-year-old Necie Davis, described herself going in and out of consciousness after the crash.
“I felt the car hit the other car and then after that I just blanked out and when I kind of looked around and Avianca Cortez was laying on top of me and I was trying to see if she was still here,” said Davis. “I was trying to get her up, but I couldn’t really move.”
Davis, who was released from the hospital late Friday, said she and her friends were on their way home from a party when they were hit.
“We always went places with each other,” said Davis. “I wish I could see them one last time at least. I didn’t get to tell them I love them or anything.”
Timalshina’s bond was set at $150,000.