Memorial Stopped for Drunk Driving Allegation


Drunk driving perspective | Image by Marek Bidziski

Dallas City Council members canceled plans to commemorate the death of a local activist after a crash report revealed she might have been drinking and driving prior to the accident that killed her and caused the other driver to suffer significant injuries.

Liegea Lopez, a 42-year-old Oak Cliff community activist, was killed in a traffic accident on February 6 in the City of Hutchins. Lopez’s vehicle reportedly crossed the double yellow line and veered into oncoming traffic near Dowdy Ferry Road, resulting in a head-on collision.

After her death, three members of the Dallas City Council — Chad West, Omar Narvaez, and Jaime Resendez — planned to honor Lopez’s memory with ceremonial street sign toppers that would be added along two blocks of Jefferson Boulevard between South Van Buren Avenue and North Adams Street.

However, those plans changed after the crash report from the incident allegedly revealed that an “open bottle of beer was observed in the driver seat next to the center console” of Lopez’s vehicle.

The report also said the driver in the other vehicle, Lawrence Coleman, suffered “major injuries and was transported to Baylor Dallas [Hospital] by Hutchins [Fire Department]” after the accident.

Following this revelation, the council members decided they would not install the street toppers in memory of Lopez.

“Based on the information in the police report, and out of respect for Mr. Coleman and his family, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Omar Narvaez, Councilmember Jaime Resendez, and I will not be moving forward with the sign topper honoring Ms. Lopez,” said Council Member West in a Tuesday statement.

“This collision and the resulting death and injury is a tragedy for all of the families involved here,” West explained. “Alcohol has caused too many injuries and deaths on the road, tragically hurting families.”

Another local community activist, Hilda Duarte, who worked closely with Lopez and knew her for seven years, told The Dallas Express that it was initially her idea to cancel the installation of the street toppers.

“The request to withdraw was my idea,” she said. “I believe there are some unanswered questions surrounding her death and the accident that is causing ‘certain’ individuals to question this honor.”

Duarte explained that she made this suggestion after other members of the community attempted to “tarnish” the memory of Lopez with accusations of drunk driving.

“The fact that ‘an open container’ was found in her car is not proof that it was from that same night, nor that she herself was drinking that night in her car. … These are all assumptions until proven otherwise,” said Duarte.

Duarte said the facts of the case should be examined after a toxicology or autopsy report is released. She noted that she is planning a fundraiser for Mr. Coleman’s family, along with several local business owners and friends of Lopez.

“We regret that he is still in the hospital, and we want to show solidarity,” said Duarte. Duarte concluded that, in her eyes, Lopez was a “great person” who dedicated her life to helping her community.

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