CONROE – A Montgomery County Grand Jury indicted an illegal alien on manslaughter charges last Thursday in the July 26 death of a Conroe woman in a midday, head-on collision on FM 3083 at Willis Waukegan Rd. (east side) and Texaco Rd. (west side).
Carlos Solis Gomez, 24, of Conroe was driving a Ford 150 pickup southbound when investigators say he passed in a curve (a no passing zone) and collided head-on with a northbound Toyota Corolla driven by Dorothy Ann Gardner of Conroe.
After a lengthy extrication by the Grangerland Fire Department, medics transported Gardner to a nearby landing zone where a PHI air ambulance was to take her to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. However, she went into traumatic arrest while being loaded onto the helicopter. Medics transported Gardner to Conroe Regional Medical Center where she was pronounced dead. Gardner would have celebrated her 68th birthday on the following Wednesday.
Her 9-year-old female passenger was transported by ground ambulance to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston with non-life threatening injuries. Gomez was uninjured and taken into custody by DPS then transported to Conroe Regional for a mandatory blood draw to determine whether he was intoxicated.
Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon responded to the scene personally, as part of his administration’s policy of having a representative on the scene of fatalities that are expected to be the focus of a prosecution.
Gomez had no license or insurance and his immigrant status was in question at first because he did have a Mexican Consulate ID card. However, prosecutor Warren Diepraam said those cards are obtained by Mexican nationals through their government and are no indication of immigrant status. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) placed a hold on Gomez, preventing his release even if someone posted his bond.
He will now stand trial for manslaughter, a second-degree felony. He was originally booked on the charge of criminally negligent homicide, a third-degree felony. The charge was upgraded the next day, after Sgt. Terry Barnhill, with the Texas Department of Public Safety, visited the DA’s Office and presented them with additional evidence. Diepraam said the difference in the two charges was dependent upon whether the person engaging in the activity that caused a death did not realize the danger at the time, or whether they knew their actions were dangerous and chose to engage in them anyway.
Gomez will eventually be deported. If convicted, he will serve a sentence of two to 20 years in the US and will then be deported by ICE. If Gomez is found not guilty, he will be deported immediately.