Man convicted in wreck that killed 2

Aug. 31, 2013 @ 08:11 AM

A Lenoir man pleaded guilty Thursday in Caldwell Superior Court of two counts felony involuntary manslaughter from a 2012 crash on Misson Road that killed two passengers in his car.

Cruz Alfredo Aguilar Tax, 31, of Jason Place also pleaded guilty to one count of hit and run causing serious injury. Tax was sentenced to between two years eight months and four years 10 months in prison.

Around 4 a.m. on March 11, 2012, a person who lives on Mission Road reported that a suspicious looking man was outside his house and appeared to be injured. It was Tax, who was taken to Caldwell Memorial Hospital for his injuries. Hospital staff determined the injuries could have been caused by a car crash, so the N.C. Highway Patrol was sent to Mission Road to investigate. The crash investigation shut down a stretch of Mission Road from about 7 a.m. until noon that day.

Trooper M.T. Stutts noticed skid marks and disturbed gravel on the shoulder of the road and eventually found a 1997 Honda Prelude down an embankment on the opposite side of the road, on its side and with three people still inside. The driver of the car appeared to have lost control of the car, which ran off the left side of the road and wrecked.

Jose Benito Flores, then 28, of Lenoir, was in the front right passenger seat and was alive. Two passengers in the back seat -- Carmelo Vasquez, 19, of Hudson and Bartolome Games Romero, 23, of Granite Falls -- were killed in the wreck. All were wearing seat belts.

Tax, who did not have a driver's license, was determined to be the driver.

Flores was flown to Carolinas Medical Center in critical conditiion. Tax's injuries were severe, and he was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in critical condition.

Tax was charged with two counts of death by vehicle and causing serious injury by vehicle.