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Texas Driver Is Sentenced to 60 Years in Prison for Crash That Killed 8


A Texas man who drove into a crowd of migrants outside a shelter in the border city of Brownsville last year, killing eight people, was convicted on Friday of eight counts of intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years in prison, a prosecutor said.

The sentence was handed down after a jury found the man, George Alvarez, 35, of Brownsville, guilty after a weeklong trial, according to the prosecutor, Edward Sandoval, of the Cameron County District Attorney’s office.

According to witnesses and the authorities, Mr. Alvarez drove a Range Rover through a red light at around 8:30 a.m. on May 7, 2023, and plowed into a crowd of newly arrived migrants outside the Ozanam Center, a shelter for the homeless in Brownsville that serves many migrants.

When police officers arrived they found a gruesome scene. Chief Felix Sauceda of the Brownsville Police Department said last year that six of the people struck by the vehicle had died on the spot and two died later at a hospital. Ten others suffered severe injuries.

Mr. Sandoval said the evidence showed that Mr. Alvarez was on cocaine at the time and was driving recklessly while under the influence. Investigators did not find that he had the intent to kill, Mr. Sandoval said.

“As a result of the defendant’s voluntary conduct and his bad choices, eight innocent people brutally and horribly lost their lives, and another 10, equally innocent, individuals had their lives forever negatively impacted and changed,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Mr. Alvarez’s lawyers did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Friday.

According to the district attorney’s office, Mr. Alvarez had testified on his own behalf and “refused to accept any responsibility and complained that the trial was not fair to him.”

Chief Sauceda said last year that Mr. Alvarez had been arrested many times previously, including on charges of burglary, assault, theft and driving while intoxicated.

After the crash, a group of people detained the driver when he tried to flee, according to Eyder Hernandez, who was among those who stopped him.

When arrested, Mr. Alvarez refused to cooperate with investigators, the police said. According to a police report, an arresting officer reported that he heard Mr. Alvarez say, “Se me atravesaron” — “They got in my way” in Spanish — moments after the crash. The officer added that Mr. Alvarez showed clear signs of intoxication.

“He had droopy, watery eyes and had a look of fatigue on his face,” the officer wrote.

Many of the victims had traveled together from Venezuela to Texas, becoming like a family along the way, Mr. Hernandez said.

Migrants at the Ozanam Center often stay for only a few days while they work to secure travel elsewhere, Victor Maldonado, the executive director, said last year. They “do odd jobs and get a little money so they can move on,” he said.


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