DWI suspect crashes, narrowly misses firefighters

 Staff Report

A suspected drunk driver crashed into a fallen tree that two Union Parish firefighters were in the process of removing from LA Highway 2 near Crossroads early Sunday morning.

The firefighters were not injured, but the vehicle’s driver – Carlos Mata, 24, of Sealy, TX – was arrested and booked into the Union Parish Detention Center on multiple charges.

According to the Union Parish Sheriff’s Office, a UPSO deputy sheriff observed a truck run a stop sign and cross Hwy 2 near Antioch at about 1 a.m., then perform a “donut” to turn around before heading east on the highway. 

The deputy began pursuing the vehicle and just as he caught up to it the truck turned south onto LA Highway 33 near where a large tree had fallen across the roadway. Two Rocky Branch/Crossroads District firefighters were using chainsaws to dismantle the tree so it could be removed from the road when Mata’s truck crashed into it.

According to the UPSO report, the deputy ordered Mata to exit the vehicle and when Mata complied, the deputy noticed that he appeared to be impaired.  Mata refused to perform a field sobriety test and was placed in a patrol unit while deputies searched the truck and found opened beer and liquor bottles that were cold to the touch. 

When asked why he disregarded the stop sign near Antioch, Mata told deputies that he forgot there was an intersection there, the UPSO report said. 

After being taken to the UPSO, Mata refused to submit a breath sample for the Intoxillizer, and deputies applied for and were granted a ‘No Refusal’ search warrant for Mata’s blood.

A blood sample was taken at Union General Hospital and analyzed to determine Mata’s level of intoxication. Meanwhile, deputies discovered that Mata was currently on bond for a charge of second offense DUI related to an incident that occurred less than two months ago. A condition of Mata’s bond was that an Interlock device would be installed in his vehicle, but the truck he was driving Sunday morning had no such device.

An interlock device is an in-car breathalyzer that prevents a person from starting a car until a breath alcohol test is taken. If the blood alcohol content of that breath test is above a certain level, the vehicle will not start. 

Deputies also discovered that Mata had been arrested for DWI in 2016 in Texas. 

Mata was transported to the Union Parish Detention Center and booked on the following charges: DWI 3rd Offense, operating a vehicle while under suspension, no Ignition Interlock Device, open container, no proof of insurance, reckless operation and expired vehicle registration. 

Mata’s bond was set by a third district judge at $92,500.

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