Bartender in Houston arrested 2 years after customer killed teen - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Bartender in Houston arrested 2 years after customer killed teen in DUI crash

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HOUSTON - A Houston bartender, who investigators say served a man convicted in a fatal DUI crash of a teenager was arrested Wednesday.

Natalia Ortiz was arrested at work Wednesday and appeared to have no idea one of her customers two years ago killed a teenager after leaving her service.

On May 15, 2016, Jocelyn Valero was on her way home from prom when Edin Palacios-Rodas, who was driving drunk and fleeing from police, crashed into the car she was in and killed her.

In April, Palacios-Rodas was convicted of murder and sentenced to 32 years in prison.

Sean Teare, Chief of the Harris County District Attorney Vehicular Crimes Division, says before the crash, Rodas was drinking at El Muelle Seafood restaurant in north Houston and was over-served by Natalia Ortiz.

“We observed him being served between 11 and 12 beers in about 2-and-a-half hours,” Teare explained.

Teare said Palacios-Rodas was so drunk, he had a hard time standing.

While Ortiz was in the back of a patrol car, KHOU 11 News reporter Lauren Talarico asked Ortiz if she had anything to say to the Valero family.

“Who is the Valero family?” Ortiz asked. “I don’t understand anything. What is happening?”

The DA’s Office says Wednesday’s arrest is just the start of a long line of ones to come as they investigate older crash cases.

“We are going to hold everyone responsible that had anything to do with these crashes going forward,” Teare said.

Ortiz’s arrest is not just a warning to the service industry but to everyone.

“Anybody who is serving alcohol,” said investigator Chuck Cornelius with the DA Vehicular Crimes Division. “Whether it’s at a location or a party at a house or apartment complex. We have a huge problem in Harris County. Harris County leads the state and the country in alcohol related fatalities.”

As we go into prom and graduation season especially, where plenty of parties are planned, Teare hopes everyone understands their message that you don’t have to be holding the keys to get locked up.

“It’s a great responsibility to serve alcohol to individuals, and if you do that, you have to do it responsibly, and if you don’t, we’re going to come get you," Teare said.

The liquor violation charge Ortiz is facing is a misdemeanor, but she’s also facing a third-degree felony charge for using someone else’s social security number.

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