FORT WORTH -- The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has opened an investigation into where a 23-year-old pickup driver was drinking before he was involved in a fiery crash early Monday that killed a tanker truck driver, an agency official confirmed Tuesday.
Louis Nieves, 23, who was arrested after the wreck, told a reporter for WFAA/Channel 8 TV that he had drunk 10 beers before getting behind the wheel and leaving a bar on East Eighth Street near the Fort Worth Convention Center.
At some point, Nieves drove the wrong way onto westbound Interstate 30 near downtown, police said. About 2:40 a.m. near Beach Street, his pickup and a fuel tanker collided. The tanker overturned and exploded. The driver was trapped in the cab and died at the scene, officials said.
On Tuesday, family and friends identified the tanker driver as 45-year-old Alejandro Raya of Fort Worth. The Tarrant County medical examiner's office has not made the official identification.
The beverage commission is investigating but won't identify the business until the investigation is further along, said Capt. Charlie Cloud, an agency spokesman.
Nieves, who faces a charge of intoxication manslaughter, remained in the Mansfield Jail on Tuesday with bail set at $90,000, a Fort Worth police spokesman said.
'It's a big loss'
Martin Raya, the victim's eldest brother, said Alejandro Raya "was a really hardworking man" with a wife and three children, ages 21, 14 and 12.
His brother was excited about planning a quinceañera party for a daughter's 15th birthday in September.
"I saw him at a family birthday party Saturday, and he talked about getting ready for the quinceañera and how much he loved his children," Martin Raya said. "He was a wonderful brother, but even more, he was a good friend. It's a big loss for the whole family."
Candelario Nares, a friend of Alejandro Raya's and a distant cousin, said, "A great person was lost."
He said Alejandro Raya moved to the United States from Mexico in the 1980s.
"He was a very kind person," Nares said in Spanish. "He was very calm. He was a very good person."
Nares works with Raya's wife at the Railhead Smokehouse in west Fort Worth. Employees of the restaurant are collecting money to help the family with expenses.
Raya was working for Petro-Chemical Transport, based in Addison, a company spokeswoman said. Fuel that spilled from the tanker ignited, melting steel beams and concrete in the I-30 bridge over Sycamore Creek.
Repairs to the roadway and the bridge may take four to five months, Val Lopez, a Transportation Department spokesman, said Tuesday.
Designing the columns and steel beams used in the repairs will take about three weeks, he said. After concrete is poured, it will be 30 more days before traffic is allowed to drive over it.
The freeway will be reduced from four westbound lanes to two between Beach Street and Riverside Drive during repairs.
Gus Nares Jr., a relative of Raya's, passed by the site Tuesday on his way to school at the University of Texas at Arlington.
"I saw 20 feet of burned concrete. It was awful," the student said.
Staff writer Diane Smith contributed to this report.