The 12-year-old girl was driving a black Ford Explorer at around 4:25 p.m. at the Wilshire Apartments on Aug. 15, a Houston Police Department spokesman told The Epoch Times, with the father in the passenger seat.
“When she took it out of gear and hit the accelerator the vehicle went forward at a high rate of speed and that’s when it struck a male pedestrian. He was pronounced deceased,” spokesman John Cannon said.
In a statement, police said the girl also struck one of the man’s dogs before hitting a tree as she pulled forward from a parking space.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
Teenagers cannot obtain a learner’s permit until they are 15 in Texas.
The father was identified as Tomas Mejia Tol, 42. He initially said that he was driving the car but video footage showed that his daughter was the one behind the wheel.
“The 12-year-old did indicate that her dad was allowing her to drive the car to practice driving,” a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office told KTRK.
Witnesses told the broadcaster that police officers gave the girl a field sobriety test to see if she was under the influence.
“They did her like she was drunk,” one woman said. “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.”
People who lived in the area said they didn’t know why the young girl would be behind the wheel. Police said there was also a 2-year-old in the backseat of the vehicle at the time of the crash.
In addition to the homicide charge, Tol faces a charge of endangering a child.
According to Tol’s Facebook page, he hails from Houston and lives in Liberty. It said he is divorced.
The picture features a number of Guatemalan flags, indicating he may have been born there.
This is Enrique Vazquez. His family says he was working hard, making money to take care of his sick mother. Yesterday he was walking his dogs when prosecutors say he was hit and killed by a 12yo girl. Her father is now charged for allowing her drive.https://t.co/8KP13Rjbzl pic.twitter.com/9J9aKnHNiT
— Marla Carter (@MarlaABC13) August 16, 2019
The victim was identified as Mexican national Enrique Vazquez, 47. Initial reports indicated the victim was 40.
On a GoFundMe page, a man named Fernando Vazquez who said he was Vazquez’s brother told people he was raising money to send Vazquez’s body to Mexico, “where his mother awaits to say her last goodbye after not being able to see her son for more than 30 years.”
Paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene, police said.
According to Texas law, Tol faces up to 22 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.
Texas law says the endangering a child charge is brought if a person “having custody, care, or control of a child younger than 15 years, intentionally abandons the child in any place under circumstances that expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm.”
The criminally negligent homicide charge is brought if “a person commits an offense if he recklessly causes the death of an individual.”