By SARAH DOOLITTLE, Four Points News
A local couple recounts their harrowing experience of being part of a DWI hit-and-run accident on RM 620 near Mansfield Dam that minutes later resulted in another crash with a vehicle driven by a young driver at the intersection of RM 620 and Steiner Ranch Boulevard.
On the evening of Thursday, June 20, Margarito Sifuentes was driving a pickup at a reported high rate of speed on RM 620 with a passenger. After he hit a minivan, Sifuentes crashed into a second vehicle and then the silver Ford he was driving came to a stop. The Travis County Sheriff’s Office was at the scene within minutes and Sifuentes was arrested and transported to an area hospital to be treated. Sifuentes was charged with driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance.
Kristen Dark, TCSO spokesperson, confirmed that the 911 call came in at 8:59 p.m.
“It occurred at the 6000 block of North FM 620. Multiple vehicles were involved. It looks like the truck driver was transported,” Dark said. “The truck driver, Margarito Sifuentes was arrested and charged with DWI and Possession of a Controlled Substance.”
No one in the other vehicles were seriously injured, according to reports.
Meritage residents Lauren and Jeff Burton were driving on RM 620 near Mansfield Dam that night on their way home from a church meeting when, “we felt like our car exploded,” explained Lauren.
“We didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “And my husband said, did we get hit? And we both turned around and there was a car behind us with the hood crunched up.”
The couple’s minivan, only recently acquired, had significant damage to the rear hatch and bumper. There was smoke pouring from the hood of Sifuentes’s truck.
“We realized we had just been hit and we were about to be involved in a hit-and-run, and he was about to take off,” said Lauren.
Sifuentes and his passenger did flee the scene, driving on the shoulder of RM 620 northbound at an estimated 90 miles per hour, according to the Burtons. The couple took off after him.
“We started pursuing them to try and get a picture of the license plate and called 911, and told the 911 operator that we were in pursuit of this guy,” said Lauren. “And of course she told us to pull over and stop chasing the guy because we didn’t know what kind of zone he was in or what he could have on him.”
The couple did see Sifuentes drive through the red light at RM 620 and Quinlan Park Road, swerving over a median, and Lauren recalled thinking, “Someone’s going to die.”
The Burtons were still on the call with 911 when the operator informed them that there had been an accident further up RM 620. “They wanted us to come up and confirm that this was actually the guy who hit us,” explained Lauren. “He had hit a 16-year-old girl head on as she was making a left on Steiner Ranch going south 620.”
Arriving on the scene, the Burtons confirmed that Sifuentes’ truck was the vehicle that struck them. “The police and the firemen were telling me when they arrived on scene, both of the young men were very high and drunk and trying to hide drugs in the cactus (nearby),” Lauren said.
Jeff and Lauren both had terrible headaches at this point, and the emergency medical technicians examined them and cleared the couple of any injuries.
“It was very intense and unexpected to just be driving along at 50 plus miles an hour and just get rammed into,” said Lauren. “I felt like I was punched in the back of my head.”
Lauren is also nine weeks pregnant. “I was just really concerned because the headache continued to grow and so I ended up going into the hospital just to make sure the baby was okay. I was okay and it didn’t look like I had a concussion.”
“That’s your worst nightmare, being hit by a drunk or high driver,” said Lauren.
Still, she reflects, “I don’t know how somebody didn’t get killed that night. I don’t know how that 16-year-old walked away the way she did. I don’t know how we walked away the way we did… So, yeah, we’re very lucky… We just kept thanking God and just celebrating with the other mom and the daughter that we were all okay.”
In the wake of so much destruction, Lauren has a message for Sifuentes. “I am so upset that he ended up hitting that 16-year-old, but hopefully he’s going to get the help he needs. This is a wake up call for him.”