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Fiery crash kills Lockhart man

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

A one-vehicle crash in the early hours of Monday morning left one Lockhart man dead, one injured and a third behind bars.

Sirens shattered night just after 1 a.m. on Monday as Lockhart fire and police departments responded to a 9-1-1 call from a passing motorist about a car upside down and on fire in the ditch on State

Park Road. After responders extinguished the blaze, the body of Gilbert Lopez, 48, was pulled from the wreckage.

According to police, Lopez was a passenger in the back seat of the vehicle, which appeared to have left the roadway while traveling westbound, striking an obstruction in the ditch and rolling over. Because of his position in the car, it seems, Lopez was unable to escape the wreck.

Two other men, Chris Longoria, 24, and Michael Cuellar, 23, were seen walking on State Park Road toward Lockhart, about a mile from the accident scene. Police determined that both had also been in the vehicle at the time of the accident, but had been able to escape and left the wreck on foot.

Cuellar was transported to Central Texas Medical Center with minor injuries. Longoria, who was apparently driving the car, was arrested and charged with Intoxication Assault and Intoxication Manslaughter.

Police are still investigating the crash. However, initial reports reveal that both alcohol and excessive speed may have played a part in the accident and, subsequently, in Lopez’s death.

Additionally, unofficial witness reports suggest the men may have been involved in a Sunday-evening altercation at a local nightclub which left another man hospitalized from resulting injuries.

Anyone with information about the events is encouraged to contact the Lockhart Police Department at (512) 398-4401.

Lockhart Mayor James “Jimmy” Bertram said Tuesday evening he has taken particular interest in the crash, which occurred near the site where Caldwell County Deputy Robert Morgan was seriously injured last month.

“I went and observed that location for more than three hours today,” Bertram said. “And despite the other factors that were at play, it’s clear the condition of that road had a lot to do with [Lopez’s] death.”

Bertram said his observations showed a series of large bumps along the curved stretch of State Park Road/FM 20 W caused drivers, even at posted speeds, to run the risk of leaving the roadway, where a sharp shoulder drop and eroded ditch reduce chances of recovery.

He said he has been in contact with area legislators and the Texas Department of Transportation in an effort to have the situation rectified.

“There have been several accidents out there, and this is just too much,” he said. “Never again. I’m going to do everything I can to see that this never happens again to another family.”

Lopez leaves behind his wife, Sylvia; daughter Kristi Rodriguez and husband, Paul; grandson, Christopher Ray Rodriguez; three brothers and three sisters.

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