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Driver, Who Killed Cooper Teen, Faces Manslaughter

It has been a long process but the family of the late Enrique Mendoza, 19, of Cooper are finally finding a bit of closure on their loss. On June 5, 2016 the teen was killed as a result of a head-on collision that occurred on State Highway 19, about six miles north of Sulphur Springs.

Mendoza was traveling to work. At about 6:30 a.m. is when the State Troopers were called to respond to the crash. According to the preliminary findings reported GMC Sierra driver D’arquez Tennon, 20, of Paris, Texas was traveling north when he veered off the highway, overcorrected, and struck the Cadillac being driven by Mendoza. In all there were four other men involved in the criminal incident.

In a Department of Public Safety incident report body camera footage showed Tennon admitting to smoking marijuana at a party before getting behind the wheel and driving.

On December 7, 2016 Tennon was arraigned on the charge of Manslaughter and taken into custody. On February 23, 2017 he plead guilty to Manslaughter and waived all rights to appeal.

Tragically his parents, Mario and Dianna Mendoza, and his family passed the wrecked vehicles being towed from the collision that Sunday morning on their way to church, unaware it involved their son. The family hopes to make the public more aware of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and drunk driving.

She willingly released her court statement.

“On June 5, Sunday morning, Enrique, while on his way to work, was killed by a young man who was under the influence of an illegal substance and fell asleep at the wheel, only to then crash head-on with my son’s car.  My whole life was shattered on that Sunday morning when I got a call while in church that my worst nightmare had been confirmed,” stated his mother Dianna Mendoza. “The day of Enrique’s funeral was a day that no parent should have to endure, seeing my precious son in a coffin lowered into the ground, never to be seen again is a deep sadness I will forever carry with me, the emptiness is overwhelming.”

She went on in her grief. “There will be no college graduation, no 20th birthday, or another Christmas to celebrate with my son…. Enrique’s laughter was contagious.  He had a sense of humor that was so incredibly fun and quick witted.”

Enrique leaves behind one brother, Miguel, and four sisters, Victoria, Gabriella, Sophia, and Cathrenia. Enrique had just completed his first year of college at Texas A&M University at Commerce studying criminal justice and agricultural science with future plans of becoming a Texas Game Warden.

"The defendant’s decision to stay awake all night, smoke marijuana, then get behind the wheel, drive with no license, and take the life of my son, Enrique, with no regard for the effects it may have on his family is unimaginable,” she said. "I will forever miss Enrique’s hugs, along with all the opportunities to say – ‘I love you’ are forever gone. Our family is forever broken. The pain in my heart never gets easier."

As previously reported Mendoza was the second of a total of four Cooper High School Class of 2015 who have died in vehicle accidents.

In an unrelated recent report, AK Gillis dump truck driver, Vincent Wilcox, of Sulphur Springs, who struck Vivian and O.G. Brewer, of Cooper, on Aug. 13, 2015, killing them both, turned himself in on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016 to face two counts of manslaughter. Wilcox also tested positive for drugs.

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