2 adults, 2 children die in golf cart-involved wreck in Galveston

A Galveston driver faces four counts of intoxication manslaughter after hitting a golf cart out on a late-night ride, police said Sunday.

Two adults and two children died in the three-vehicle wreck at 11:35 pm Saturday. Witnesses said a black Hyundai SUV headed east on Avenue R, failed to stop at 33rd Street and hit the golf cart and a black Dodge pickup, according to the Galveston Police Department.

The adult driver of the golf cart died at the scene, police said. Three other people in the golf cart — a woman and two children — died later at the hospital. A fifth and sixth occupant, an adult and child, remain in critical condition.

The Hyundai driver sustained minor injuries. Miguel Espinoza, 45, of Rosenberg, is being held at the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office in lieu of posting $400,000 bond.

The victims’ identities have not been released. Police would not immediately confirm if the victims, who are from two different families, were from Galveston or from out of town.

The fatalities occurred a little over a year after a Galveston City Council ordinance changed the way golf carts are regulated. The new ordinance stated it had been formulated in response to the rising use of golf carts in the city, “increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.” Changes included requiring all occupants to wear seatbelts and restricting golf cart operation to the right-hand lane of multi-lane streets.

Other changes focused on vendors that rent golf carts, upping their permit fees and mandating that they provide renters information about golf cart regulations, including where they are not allowed to drive and the fact that they must remain in the right-hand lane.

The golf cart was a rental cart, Galveston Police Department Detective Derek Gaspard said.

New golf cart rental businesses have opened in recent years, particularly after the city lowered speed limits on parts of Seawall Boulevard in an effort to make the street safer for pedestrians, Galveston Mayor Craig Brown said.

The City Council would discuss golf cart safety again this week, Brown said.

“This particular accident is horrendous,” Brown said. “But we’ve had a number of other accidents recently with golf carts that, thank heavens, didn’t result in any deaths. We need to relook at this because they’re increasing in the streets. I’m not sure what we can do.”

While the Daily News reported at the time that a proposed version of the ordinance had included a ban on night-driving, such language was not included in the version that was ultimately approved. That omission has led to confusion, the Daily News showed, because of a state law saying golf carts could be operated on streets with a speed limit of no more than 35 miles per hour during the daytime.

Golf carts must have headlamps, tail lamps, turn signals, brake lights and side reflectors in order to receive a permit.

This story is developing. Come back for updates.

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