Former Saltillo honors student dies in street racing crash, police say
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

March 17, 2005 -- Street racing is blamed in the death of a 19-year-old Saltillo man just before 10 p.m. Thursday evening when the car he was driving slammed into a utility pole in the 600 block of Gilmer St., according to Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jim Bayuk.

"Octavio Perea Jr., 19 years old, was pronounced dead at the scene," the chief said. "Information from witnesses indicated two vehicles were racing northbound on Gilmer. When they came to the Gilmer-Oak street split, Perea lost control of his vehicle and hit a telephone pole right on the driver's door. He died on impact."

Bayuk said speed was a primary factor in the wreck, and witnesses on a nearby parking lot told accident investigators they could hear the cars coming very fast "from the roar of the engines and the whine."

"I will say this -- it was very, very fast," Bayuk said. "We don't know where the race started, but when they hit the split, the speed was way too excessive."

Perea's car apparently slid out of control, and the driver's door slammed into the utility pole, literally wrapping the car around the pole.

The impact was heard 10 blocks away and left the car so mangled that it took rescuers more than two hours to remove Perea from his car.

Bayuk said the driver of the other vehicle involved in the race was taken to the police department to meet with investigators following the fatal crash. Felony charges are pending.

"That individual was brought to the station, and Detective Monty Tipps met with him," Chief Bayuk said. "The actual offense is racing on a highway. In this case a death happened, which makes it a felony in the second degree,"

Police investigators were working with Department of Public Safety accident investigation specialists and the Texas Department of Transportation Friday morning in an effort to determine the speeds involved in the accident as well as any other contributing factors.

Perea, a student at the University of Texas in Tyler, was salutatorian of the 2004 graduating class at Saltillo High School. He participated in numerous UIL contests and was a regional qualifier in number sense all four years of his high school career and in math every year but his junior year. Perea was named to "Who's Who Among American High School" students as a senior, was a part of the school's gifted and talented program and was also a Texas Scholar

Funeral services for Octavio Perea Jr. were pending Friday morning with Murray-Orwosky Funeral Home.

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