For Linda and Miguel Lopez, June is a mixture of joy and grief. On the 22nd the couple will celebrate their wedding anniversary and on the 26th they will mark the first anniversary of their daughter’s death.
Mariaah Lopez was just 17 and a passenger in Austin Catoe’s new Chevy Silverado when she was killed in a rollover near Kennard, Texas about 4 a.m. Sunday, June 26, 2016.
Brendan Galloway, 22, also died and 19-year-old Haley Henry’s arm may never be the same following the one-vehicle crash.
Catoe, 18, escaped without major injury but faces eight felony indictments in connection with the crash.
After a year of criminal proceedings and empty promises, Miguel and Linda are still looking for answers about what happened the night they lost Mariaah.
“I just want to know what happened,” Miguel said, as he told the story to attorney Jeff Weinstein.
According to the DPS accident report, Catoe was driving 96 mph when he lost control of his truck, went off the road, struck several trees causing the vehicle to roll and eject Mariaah, Brendan, and Haley. The DPS report also says that he had a blood alcohol content of .064 two hours after the crash.
Mariaah was pronounced dead at the scene. Brendan was pronounced dead two hours later at the hospital.
Catoe was indicted for 2nd Degree Felony Intoxicated Manslaughter and 2nd Degree Felony Manslaughter in addition to other charges.
For Linda and Miguel, the criminal justice system moves slowly and they have spent days in the courtroom with nothing to show for it except rebuke. Recently, Linda and Miguel spent an entire day waiting for a criminal hearing they had been asked by the State to attend. The hearing never took place, it was re-scheduled.
“I got admonished by the special investigator for looking at the Catoe family while they were in the Courtroom. They said I was trying to intimidate them,” said Linda. “I can’t even look around during the court proceedings.”
The next hearing is scheduled for June 28 when Catoe’s defense will try and have the alcohol evidence excluded from his criminal trial.
“I want him held accountable for what he did,” said Linda.
Jeff Weinstein said, “This family deserves answers and they deserve justice. Unfortunately, they can’t get the answers without filing their own civil suit. Victims of deaths and injuries from drunk driving or distracted driving will not have control over gathering information unless they hire someone like me to go get it for them. We know nothing will bring Mariaah back, but the family wants to know what happened so they can be part of making sure it doesn’t happen to another family.”
Linda and Miguel Lopez have given permission to the Weinstein Law to tell their story in the hope it will help other families in the same situation.