A male suspect wanted on a felony warrant led several law enforcement agencies on a high-speed chase into Wharton County Thursday morning, landing him in a hospital following a rollover crash, claiming the life of his female passenger.
The victim was identified as Julia Moreno, 51, of Gonzales, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), which is investigating the crash.
Raymond Lights, 52, of Simonton, was still at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Sugar Land. Lights has not been interviewed, and he currently faces felony charges, DPS spokesperson Sgt. Stephen Woodard said at press time.
Lights drove a 2003 white four-door Hyundai during a chase that originated in Fort Bend County and ended five miles west of East Bernard.
“He was traveling at a high rate of speed, lost control of the vehicle on a dirt road when he left the (CR 270) roadway and struck an embankment,” Sgt. Woodard said. “The vehicle rolled over and landed near a ditch. The female passenger was not wearing a seatbelt. She was not ejected from the vehicle, but she died at the scene.”
The East Bernard Volunteer Fire Department and EMS were dispatched to the incident around 11:25 a.m.
Once law enforcement officers from various agencies had determined the suspects were pinned in the vehicle, the vehicle’s engine compartment began to burn. Wharton County Precinct 2 Constable J.A. Szymanki got fire extinguishers from law enforcement officers at the scene to put out the flames.
“The first several minutes after the crash were very chaotic during the extinguishment,” Szymanski said.
The chase began around 11 a.m. after Fulshear police was advised of a suspect who was known to travel the area using the same vehicle.
“The make and model of the suspect’s vehicle, along with the license plate number was placed into our license plate reader system and it immediately got a hit,” Fulshear police said in a press release. “A Fulshear police sergeant on patrol spotted the suspects’ vehicle occupied by two individuals. A traffic stop was initiated, however, the suspect refused to stop and fled at a high rate of speed.”
Deputies with the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office and the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office, and DPS also gave chase.
“I was in the East Bernard area patrolling in my vehicle when we were dispatched by (WCSO) and were informed of a pursuit on 90A and FM 1489 coming from Fort Bend County into Wharton County,” Szymanski said.
Eyewitnesses in East Bernard said when the suspect went through the four-way SH 60/US 90A intersection, it nearly hit other vehicles, and was estimated to be traveling at 90 mph. The suspect turned on CR 270, which runs parallel to US 90A.
Szymanski said spikes were set up over the San Bernard River bridge around East Bernard.
“During the chase, the sergeant had a blowout of one his tires on his police vehicle and removed himself from the chase due to the flat tire,” Fulshear police said. “The suspect’s vehicle was the only vehicle involved in the accident.”
There were no injuries reported to law enforcement agencies.
Once the suspect has been interviewed, DPS will forward its investigation to the Wharton County District Attorney’s Office.