The Sheldon man whose vehicle struck and killed a hunter Friday night reportedly told Taylor County officers that he had “enough” to drink. The Taylor County crash report indicates that James Winchel was driving a Buick LeSabre at a high speed as it approached a group of hunters that were by a vehicle at the side of the roadway. After his vehicle struck Fernando Salinas Jr. and Juan Salinas, a rifle carried by Juan went through the windshield striking Winchel in the face. Prior to Friday’s crash, Winchel had been convicted of O.W.I. 4 times.
A criminal complaint was filed Monday in Taylor County Court against James L. Winchel of Sheldon. Taylor County District Attorney Kristi Tlusty charged Winchel with Homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and Operating while intoxicated causing injury-5th offense.
In the first count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, James L Winchel is charged with cause of death of Juan A Salinas by the operation of a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant, a class D Felony, and upon conviction he may be fined not more than one hundred thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than twenty-five years, or both.
In the second count, operating while intoxicated causing injury-5th offense, James L Winchel did cause injury to Fernando Salinas Jr. by the operation of a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant, a class H felony, and upon conviction may be fined not more than ten thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than six years or both. Also upon conviction the department shall revoke the defendant’s operating privilege for not less than one year not more than two years. In addition, the defendant will be required to undertake an alcohol and drug abuse assessment, and follow through the treatment recommendations as a condition of reinstatement.
In a statement to officers, Winchel stated that he “was intoxicated” when the crash occurred, and feels so “bad” for what he did.