Man sentenced to 12 years in prison for fatal car crash

HUNTSVILLE — A Midway man who killed three family members in a 2017 crash on Interstate 45 was sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday.

Spence Shaffer, 29, entered a guilty plea to three counts of manslaughter in front of 278th District Judge Hal Ridley. His sentence will be served concurrently, because the three family member deaths all occurred in the same crash.

Prosecutors say that Shaffer was determined to be the cause of a major fatality collision occurring on Interstate 45 southbound near the Huntsville State Park exit at approximately 3:30 a.m. on June 17, 2017.

Reports from 2017 stated that the relatives died when their SUV bound for Houston rolled in a three-vehicle wreck. The vehicle that was driven by Shaffer collided into their SUV, which then collided with an unoccupied vehicle left along the interstate. Two others in the SUV were seriously injured.

The victims were 17-year-old Sonia Perez, 27-year-old Maria Alvarado and 58-year-old Maria Revera DeAlvarado from Brixby, Oklahoma.

After extraction and expert analysis of the black box crash data from Shaffer’s 2014 red Hyundai, it was determined that he crashed into the rear of the victims’ vehicle traveling at 108 m.p.h without braking or swerving to avoid the crash.

Prosecutors say that Shaffer’s blood alcohol level came back from the DPS Crime Lab at .048 approximately four hours after the crash, which is below the legal intoxication limit of .08. However, it was determined from the blood test that THC (cannabis) was also present in Shaffer’s system, prosecutors say.

“The defendant admitted to taking his eyes off the highway before impact and previously smoking marijuana,” Walker County Criminal District Attorney Will Durham said.

With evidence of alcohol and marijuana impairment, excessive speed of 108 mph, sleep deprivation and taking his eyes off the highway, the Walker County Grand Jury indicted this case in December 2019.

“I want to thank Trooper Floyd Garner and Ret. Sergeant Steven McNiel of the Texas Department of Public Safety for their diligent work in gathering all the evidence from this fatal crash to help my office build a solid case of manslaughter leading to an appropriate prison sentence,” “Our office prosecutes impaired drivers to help keep our roadways and the citizens of Walker County safe.” 

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