(Editor's note: This article has been updated throughout.)
Tom Bean City Councilor Ben Vincent, who was allegedly let off of a DWI Saturday evening, was arrested for intoxicated assault with a vehicle Thursday following a head-on collision in Tom Bean.
The two-vehicle wreck involving Vincent and Elmer Stuckey, the driver of a Tom Bean Independent School District vehicle, caused injuries to both drivers, and both were transported to the hospital. In the early afternoon, Vincent was released from the hospital and arrested by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper. Vincent was booked into the Grayson County Jail for intoxicated assault with a vehicle causing serious bodily injury.
“Today about 10 a.m., officers with our agency and the Tom Bean Fire Department responded to a call of a major accident at the intersection of State Highway 11 and Britton Street,” Tom Bean Police Chief Tim Green said. “Upon initial observations, it was determined the accident involved a member of Tom Bean City Council and an employee of the Tom Bean Independent School District.”
Green confirmed the driver was Vincent, and said he did not know the conditions of the injured drivers Thursday afternoon. Though the wreck occurred inside city limits, Green turned the investigation over to DPS troopers.
“Due to the sensitive nature of the incident, we recused ourselves from the incident, and the investigation was turned over to the Texas Department of Public Safety,” Green said. “Both drivers involved in the accident were taken to a local hospital.”
Tom Bean ISD Superintendent Kelly Lusk said Stuckey was traveling on State Highway 11 when the driver of another vehicle attempted to make a left turn in front of the district vehicle Stuckey was driving. Lusk said Stuckey was transported to the hospital and though he did not know his official condition, he said Stuckey sustained cuts and chest pains as a result of the collision.
“Right now, it appears that we were fortunate that he appears to be OK,” Lusk said on behalf of the district. “He’s a good man and a good employee and we hope he recovers.”
DPS Staff Sgt. Mark Tackett said 57-year-old Vincent was driving westbound in a Toyota Prius on State Highway 11. Vincent turned left to go south on Britton Street and struckthe Chevrolet pickup driven by 62-year-old Stuckey head-on. Both men were transported to Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center.
“It seemed like it was a last minute turn,” Tackett said. “He turned left right into the eastbound lane and struck the vehicle.”
A call placed to Vincent’s cellphone was answered by a woman who identified herself as Nancy. When asked about Vincent’s condition, she said, “I can’t say anything right now.”
Tom Bean Mayor Sherry Howard did not return a phone call made by the Herald Democrat Thursday afternoon.
In the early afternoon, Vincent was arrested and taken to jail for the third degree felony offense. Tackett would not comment on what the possible intoxicant was and noted the incident was still under investigation.
At about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, a Whitewright Police officer pulled over a black SUV driven by Vincent near the intersection of State Highway 11 and U.S. Highway 69. A news release issued Tuesday evening by Whitewright Police Chief Beau Heistand states the officer, identified as Andrew LeFevre, saw the vehicle traveling into the oncoming lane of traffic.
“During the course of the traffic stop, the driver was found to be heavily intoxicated and admitted to consuming an entire bottle of wine in the three hour period preceding the stop,” Heistand said in the release. “Officer LeFevre made a decision to allow someone to come pick up the individual in lieu of making an arrest for Driving While Intoxicated.”
For not arresting Vincent for driving while intoxicated, LeFevre was terminated from the city. Vincent was not arrested that night, and a police report was not filed. Vincent declined to comment on the traffic stop in a call placed to him on Wednesday afternoon. Calls placed to numbers listed as belonging to LeFevre were not returned Thursday.
The release states LeFevre had a pending resignation with the department as he was going to pursue a job elsewhere. Heistand said the officer was with the department for two months and his last day was previously set for July 31. Heistand noted LeFevre had a job lined up out of state, and he did not know on Wednesday if that job was still available to the officer.
“Statements were made on scene indicating that if Officer LeFevre was not leaving the department soon, the driver would have been arrested for DWI,” Heistand said in the release.
Body camera footage of the traffic stop was taken from Officer Mark Munt, who provided backup during the incident. The footage shows LeFevre contact a family member of Vincent's to pick him up. LeFevre was not wearing a body camera during that stop, and Heistand said on Thursday that was because the police unit LeFevre was driving was not equipped with them.
“Now Mr. Vincent, I want you to understand how big of a deal I’m cutting you here,” LeFevre said in the video taken by Hunt. “Between attorney fees, court fees, posting bond, insurance hikes, drivers license surcharges, DWIs can cost north of $20,000. Not to mention the stigma associated with it, the headache and hassle associated with it, having a criminal record. I’m really not trying to jam you up, but what I need you to understand and grasp from all of this is the seriousness of it.”
LeFevre in the video notes Vincent was driving in the wrong lane of traffic, and he described Vincent’s actions as dangerous, irresponsible and that Vincent should be ashamed. LeFevre asked Vincent if he has a drinking problem, and while the answer to that question is unclear in the video, Vincent did say that he drinks every day.
“You keep rolling the dice like this, eventually something is going to snap,” LeFevre said in the video. “You’re not going to win every time. The odds are going to be against you.”
Heistand said on Thursday evening he did not have a comment regarding Vincent’s wreck, and he directed additional questions on the traffic stop to be made to Whitewright Mayor Jeremiah Looney.