Warrant says driver in deadly crash was going more than 40 mph over speed limit

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — The driver in a deadly January 16 crash was going more than 40 mph over the speed limit right before the crash, according to an arrest warrant obtained by EverythingLubbock.com Monday.

The driver, Gabriel Zerrata, 30, was arrested and charged with manslaughter in connection to the crash that claimed the life of 19-year-old Texas Tech University student Jessica Helmers.

Just after 2:00 a.m. on January 16, an SUV, driven by Zerrata, was northbound on University Avenue and collided with a passenger car, driven by Helmers, who was eastbound on the Marsha Sharp Freeway access road.

Crash data from Zerrata’s vehicle that police obtained indicated he was going over 70 mph prior to the crash. The data also indicated Zerrata was not wearing a seat belt and did not employ the brakes before the crash.

Court documents said the speed limit in that section of University Avenue was 30 mph.

An officer also deduced that Helmers would have had a green light to go through the intersection, while Zerrata would have had a red light, according to the court documents.

The crash data from Helmers’ vehicle indicated she was going below the speed limit when Zerrata collided with her vehicle.

Court documents said an officer was actually stopped near the intersection at the time of the crash, and that dashcam from the patrol vehicle captured the collision.

According to court documents, Zerrata told police immediately after the crash that he had been drinking at a local bar prior to the crash. He specifically told officers he had been consuming alcohol at Skooners Grill & Bar.

However, when an investigator with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission contacted the bar, they were told that, while Zerrata had shown up at the bar, workers had refused to serve him because of how intoxicated he was.

As of Monday afternoon, Zerrata was held in the Lubbock County Detention Center in lieu of a $150,000 bond.

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