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Alcohol factor in weekend wreck, official said

By Sonny Long
June 21, 2010 at 1:21 a.m.


ALCOHOL-RELATED TRAFFIC DEATHS

There were 877 alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes resulting in 975 traffic deaths in Texas in 2008, the latest year in which complete statistics are available. Of those who died, 616 were the drivers of the vehicle and 176 were passengers. Statistics for 2009 will be released in August.

SOURCE: Texas Department of Transportation

CUERO - Alcohol played a role in the wreck that claimed the life of two men headed to their high school reunion Saturday night, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety report.

"It appears at this time that alcohol is the cause," said Trooper Gerald Bryant, DPS spokesman. Bryant said pending test results would determine the level of intoxication of Derrel Prater, driver of the fatal crash.

Prater, 50, died at the scene. Michael Thomas, 49, died at 9:35 a.m. Monday at University Hospital in San Antonio, according to a hospital spokesperson. Cuero was listed as the residence for both men, according to the DPS report.

On Saturday, Prater was northbound at 11:25 p.m. when the 1988 Pontiac he was driving crashed on U.S. Highway 87, one-tenth of a mile north of state Highway 72.

Prater lost control of the car, veered off the highway and into a ditch, ejecting both men. Neither were wearing seat belts, according to the DPS report.

Prater was pronounced dead at the scene by DeWitt County Justice of the Peace Bill Robinson. Thomas was taken by helicopter to the San Antonio hospital.

The men were headed to their high school class reunion at Lindenau Hall near Cuero. Prater graduated from Cuero High School in 1979, Thomas in 1981. The reunion was for three years of graduates.

DPS Trooper Francisco Mercado is investigating the wreck.

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