Drunk driver disappears, now family wants answers

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A family member who has lost her daughter and grandson said she is outraged because the man allegedly connected to their deaths has disappeared.

"He's gone and they don't even know where he is," said Belinda Thomas, mother.

"He [Vicente Gonzalez] disguised himself in whatever, he cut his hair, he did whatever he had to disguise himself and then left without permission of the doctor or the hospital taking a chance of dying," said Sgt. Greg Sanches, Department of Public Safety spokesperson.

Sanches said Gonzalez, 30, of Corrigan, had severe injuries, including a broken leg and a bleeding brain. He said DPS didn't think Gonzalez was a flight risk.

Gonzalez disappeared from a Houston hospital on June 8. He is charged in the deaths of Willie Lacy, 48, of Alto, Crystal Thomas, 29, of Lufkin, and Christopher Gross, 4, after he allegedly drove drunk and ran head-on into them.

"That would be a different situation, but here we're talking about a motor vehicle accident and someone being charged with a DWI," said Sanches.

DPS Trooper Josh Senn told KTRE on June 18th that he knew Gonzalez was out of the hospital, but gave no indication of concern that Gonzalez was missing. Sanches said hospital officials were watching him. "They have police that work at the hospital and they were notified," said Sanches. "They [hospital police] were keeping check on Mr. Gonzalez, making sure that everything was going like it should."

This isn't the first time Gonzalez allegedly drove drunk. In 1999 he was charged with driving while intoxicated.

"But this time he took the lives of my family members," said Thomas.

Sanches said Gonzalez is an illegal immigrant and believes he used false information to obtain a driver's license. "More than likely he had to because if you're illegal, there's no way you can have a drivers license," said Sanches.

Sanches said immigration officials were notified of the charges against Gonzalez on June 5. "Until they [illegal immigrants] commit a felony, then there's nothing you can do about it," said Sanches.

While Gonzalez was charged in the deaths, a formal warrant was not served on him and it would not be served on him until he had checked out of the hospital.

"They need to find him or give me a badge," said Thomas.

Badge or no badge, Thomas said she will never stop looking for the man standing accused of killing her family until justice is served.

Sanches said a Crimestoppers will be made in hopes of finding Gonzalez. That Crimestoppers will air on KTRE.

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