FERRIS - Roberto and Teresa Leon were a couple that had a heart for people. The love they showed was felt by the family members, friends, co-workers, and strangers they met each day. This has made their deaths by an alleged drunk driver on Nov. 18 even harder to come to terms with.
Michael Cabrera, Teresa’s brother and brother-in-law to Roberto, describes the pair as people with kind-hearted souls who would do anything for anyone. He recalled that both Roberto Teresa grew up quickly, taking on a lot of responsibility.
“My sister and my brother-in-law, they were great people and they were great parents. They always made sure that my nieces had everything that they needed. They always helped out everyone in the family,” Cabrera said. “When we were younger she had to step in as a mom because my parents were always busy. She had to step in and take care of my sister and me. The same with my brother-in-law he had to take care of his brothers and his sisters. Everywhere they went they went together. They never went anywhere alone. They were always together. If someone needed help they would be there.”
Cabrera stated the two got married when they were 18 years old and looked forward to becoming parents one day. After some difficulties, the Leon’s welcomed their first daughter into the world.
“For the longest, they were trying to have kids, but they always had complications. My sister was 26 or 27 when she had her first child, but there were a lot of problems before that. She was so happy when she had her daughter. Then a couple of years later God blessed them with another one,” Cabrera recalled. “Before that everybody else would have kids and they would be the Godfather and Godmother. They were just so great with kids. I remember every Christmas they would have to buy almost 38 different gifts for the kids they had in the family. They made sure and always bought everyone something.”
Kaitlin Cheyenne Eagle, 23, turned herself into the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday night in connection with the wreck. She has been charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter. Eagle remains in custody at the Wayne McCollum Detention Center with bonds totaling $1.5 million.
First responders were dispatched to a three-vehicle accident at 6:52 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18 in the 400 block of South Interstate Highway 45.
Ferris Police Department Investigator Walter Weiss stated in his affidavit that Roberto, 40, and Teresa, 37, were taking their two children to a drive-in movie when the vehicle they were in sustained a flat tire. They pulled their Kia hatchback onto the shoulder of the highway to change the tire.
“A 4-door sedan driven by a 23-year-old woman from Richland (Eagle) collided with a pickup truck driven by a 31-year-old woman from Arlington," Weiss said. “After colliding with the pickup truck, the sedan continued out of the southbound lanes and onto the burm of the road where it then collided with the hatchback.”
Weiss stated Roberto and Teresa Leon died as a result of the injuries from the collision. The couple’s children sustained minor injuries. They were checked out at the scene by medical personnel and released to family members. Eagle and the driver of the pickup truck were taken to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and later released.
Ferris Police interviewed Charles and Keesha Mathis, who had reported the accident to dispatchers. At the time of the accident, they were behind the pickup truck that was struck.
“Charles and Keesha indicate they saw the silver Hyundai operated at what appeared to be a high rate of speed in an unsafe manner,” Weiss wrote in the affidavit. “They saw the silver Hyundai strike the rear of the white Chevy Avalanche pickup truck and then (it) struck the Kia, which was parked on the side of the road. Charles and Keesha indicated they stopped on I-45 and gave aid.”
During the investigation of the incident, Ferris Police executed a search warrant and was able to obtain medical records from Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas for Eagle. These records contained information on treatments, diagnosis, and services provided by hospital staff to Eagle. The records indicated a blood alcohol concentration of 0.25 grams per decilitre.
Section 49.08 of the Texas Penal Code states that a BAC of 0.08 grams per decilitre is classified as driving while impaired and a BAC of 0.15 grams per decilitre is classified as driving while intoxicated.
The affidavit stated that police also learned in their investigation, which included conducting interviews with Eagle’s co-workers and reviewing sales transactions, she had allegedly consumed alcoholic beverages at a Dallas-based bar.
Ferris Police Chief Eddie Salazar stated this was a difficult case with all of the factors that were involved.
“When we first received the case we didn’t know what was involved. We knew that an accident had happened and that two people had died. We started looking into it and found out that it was going to possibly be alcohol-related and it turned out that it was,” Salazar shared. “As we went along with our investigation and talked to the district attorney’s office. We felt concerned that we were going to move quickly to take action in order to arrest this person to get her off the streets. She was a clear danger. We were concerned for her as well as the safety of other motorists on the street because this was not her first incident.”
According to the affidavit, the Texas Department of Public Safety is still investigating a prior accident-involving Eagle that took place at 4:14 a.m. on June 26 on Interstate Highway 45. Trooper Otis White stated that the vehicle Eagle was operating hit the rear of another vehicle. A blood sample from Eagle was obtained from that incident and results are pending from the DPS laboratory in Austin to determine if Eagle was intoxicated.
Salazar stated that this is an unfortunate situation for everyone involved.
"There is no glory in any of this because we made an arrest,” Salazar explained. “At the end of the day, we have a young lady who is sitting in jail on a high bond. Her family is suffering, but the ones that are suffering most are the two children that don’t have parents.”
Cabrera said when he found out the news of the accident it came in waves.
“The girls had called my mom and they just told her they were in an accident that her mom and dad were on the floor. We didn’t know how bad it was at first. She called me and told me to go home and go find them. I got to the house and my oldest niece called stating that her mom and dad were going in the ambulance. So we had to go down there fairly quick,” Cabrera remembered. “My dad was already on the way to the hospital to see my sister. On the way to the hospital where my brother in law was he called me telling me that, 'I had to be strong.' When he told me that I already knew that my sister had passed. They had tried and tried to bring her back.”
When he arrived in Ennis, Cabrera was told of Roberto’s passing and that he had to make an identification since his wallet was missing. He then had to relay the news to other family members.
“I took it bad. I already knew about my sister and my other sister did not know yet. So I called my dad and let him know first and told him on the phone and we cried for a good minute,” Cabrera stated. “I called my sister and let her know. By then she had already found about my other sister. My brother-in-law brother’s and wife showed up, and the nurse asked me if I would go tell them. So I had to go break the news to them. It was not easy.”
Cabrera stated the family still has had its bad days but is doing better. A lot of love and support has been given to the family during this difficult time. He noted that they both touched a lot of lives.
“My sister worked at a daycare, and a lot of the little kids she took care of the moms supported us at the time. A lot of those parents knew her. She took care of these parents’ babies,” Cabrera recalled. “My brother-in-law, he owned a restaurant. A lot of his clients talked about how friendly he was and how he helped them out.”
Cabrera said family members are working to give the life to Roberto and Teresa’s daughters that they would have wanted.
When the news of the arrest came down Tuesday, Cabrera shared that he wasn’t happy but is relieved Eagle is in custody.
“I know that she didn’t have any intention to kill my sister and brother-in-law, but she got in that car. It makes me mad because she took away the girls parents right before Thanksgiving. So Thanksgiving is never going to be the same for me,” Cabrera stated. “We are just glad that she is locked up. I don’t know her record. I don’t know if she has always been drinking and driving. At least we know that it would not happen again at least with her.”
Cabrera encourages people to look at the big picture of the effects that driving drunk can have on families.
“For people that read this, I hope they sit here and think. If they are driving drunk, they might not know what happened. With one little swerve they might lose control, and they don’t know who they are hitting,” Cabrera said. “Whoever they hit has a family, and they are leaving someone behind. I wish that they would keep that in mind. When they do that they are changing someone’s life. That person’s life is meaningful to someone.”