A Texas man’s decision to give his 12-year-old daughter a driving lesson had deadly consequences after she accidentally struck and killed a neighbor and his dog. Tomas Mejia Tol, 42, was charged with criminal negligent homicide and endangering a child after his daughter hit a neighbor who was out walking his dogs.
Univision reported bail was set at $1,000 for each charge. No charges have been pressed against the girl, who is has not been named because she is a minor. She is currently at home with her family.
“You can’t allow a young child to drive in a populated place,” Sean Teare, chief of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Vehicular Crimes Division said. “If you’re going to teach a young person how to drive, go to an empty parking lot. Go somewhere where you’re not going to have the potential for taking someone’s life.”
“Every time you turn the wheel, or you turn the key on a car, you are strapping on a deadly weapon,” he added.
Here’s what you need to know about Tomas Mejia Tol.
1. Tomas Mejia Tol’s Daughter Struck Vazquez When She Applied Too Much Pressure to the Gas Pedal
The incident occurred around 4:25 p.m. on August 15. Tol and his daughter were in the parking lot of their southwest Houston apartment complex in the 6000 block of Beverly Hill Street when he allowed the girl to practice driving his black Ford Explorer. It is unknown if he was in the vehicle with her at the time of the accident.
According to a City of Houston news release, the girl was pulling forward from the parking space when she applied too much pressure on the gas, accelerated, and hit a 46-year-old man, one of his three dogs and a tree. Neighbors identified the victim to ABC 13 as Enrique Jaime Vazquez, 47. Paramedics pronounced both the man and his dog dead at the scene.
2. Tol Initially Told Investigators He was the Driver
Tol initially told detectives the accident occurred while he was behind the wheel, however, witnesses refuted his story. Video footage confirmed witness statements, showing Tol’s daughter driving at the time of the accident.
In Texas, a learner’s permit can be obtained at 15 years of age, a restricted licensed at 16, and a full driver’s license is issued at 18.
3. Tol’s Daughter Was Reportedly Given a Field Sobriety Test
After the accident, neighbors reported seeing police giving Tol’s daughter a field sobriety test.
“They did her like she was drunk. We were wondering why they would do that test on her if she’s just like a teenager. She’s not supposed to be drunk or anything,” an unidentified neighbor told KHOU.
4. A Toddler was in the Back Seat During the Accident
Police discovered a two-year-old girl in the backseat of the SUV, according to Teare. The child endangerment charge against Tol involves this child. Although the baby was secured in a child safety seat, the situation still put the infant at risk.
No information has been released regarding the child or how she was related to Tol.
5. Fernando Vazquez Is Remembered for Helping His Family
Friends and family are devastated by the loss of Vazquez and shocked by the series of events that led up to his death.
Neighbors said they frequently saw him outside of the apartment complex walking his three dogs. Vazquez’s brother, Fernando revealed the two them were working to help pay for the medical care of their mother in Mexico.
Speaking in Spanish with KTRK, Fernando Vazquez said he was grateful charges had been pressed against Tol and said the responsibility for what happened rests solely with father.
Fernando Vazquez is raising money with a GoFundMe page to send Enrique’s body to Mexico. According to the fundraising site, Enrique Vazquez’s mother “awaits to say her last goodbye after not being able to see her son for more than 30 years.”