Upgrade to intoxication manslaughter planned in fatal boating accident
A charge against a Pilot Point man will be upgraded to intoxication manslaughter with the death of one of the passengers in a boat that crashed into Ray Roberts Lake dam Tuesday night, officials say.
Richard Norman Jr., 21, of Pilot Point died of head injuries he suffered when a boat with Aaron Ortez, 48, at the wheel hit the dam at a high rate of speed.
Mario Salinas, 18, suffered a puncture wound to his abdomen and both were taken by medical helicopter to a Plano hospital.
Witnesses said Ortez was standing in the middle of FM455 on the dam waving his shirt to get help that night and appeared to be very intoxicated, according to reports. He was taken to Denton County Jail on a charge of intoxication assault. He posted $50,000 bail Thursday and was released. He could not be reached for comment Friday.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Capt. Neil Bieler confirmed Friday morning that the charge would be upgraded.
Felicia Norman, the victim’s mother, said Thursday that Ortez came to her home that day and asked Richard Norman Jr. to go fishing with him.
“I smelled beer on him and I tried to get Junior not to go, but I couldn’t stop him,” she said. “He said it would be all right and that he would drive.”
The mother said she learned that the boat was stopped in the water and both the younger men were baiting hooks when Ortez started driving the boat.
“He wasn’t supposed to be driving because he was drunk, but he slid under the wheel and just took off. The boat was going 70 or 80 mph when it hit the dam,” she said. “My son was thrown out and landed on his head. He didn’t have a chance.”
Friends have opened an account to help defray funeral costs for the family. Donations can be made at any Chase bank in the name of Richard Norman Jr.
DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.