It has been an eventful week for Howe police officers. In addition to handling a massive logjam of vehicles resulting from two separate crashes within minutes of each other on Highway 75 on May 16 the department has been thrust into the spotlight following the arrest of an Oklahoma state senator.
On May 15, at approximately 11 p.m., HPD officers Jordan Clark and Robert Todd responded to a call from Grayson County dispatch regarding a suspected drunk driver. Dispatch had received numerous calls from drivers and alerted HPD to be on the lookout for the vehicle coming their way. Clark set up on 75 and observed a late-model black Ford F-150 swerving and crossing onto the shoulder of the road.
Clark and Todd stopped the vehicle near Farmington Rd. and ultimately arrested Harry Edward Coates, 63, of Seminole, Okla., for driving while intoxicated.
Officers reported that Coates “exhibited signs of intoxication and that he was unable to complete field sobriety testing.” Clark stated that Coates was unable to maintain his balance without falling over.
Coates consented to a blood draw at a local hospital and was booked into the Grayson County Jail for DWI. During the booking process officers learned that Coates was an Oklahoma state senator (District 28) and it was his last day in office.
The following day, two accidents in Howe near 902 shut down northbound Highway 75 for a significant time. The first accident happened at 902 as a car hit the concrete barrier in the construction zone, ultimately resulting in a three-car collision. The unidentified driver of the first car was transported via CareFlite to Medical Center of Plano where his status is unknown. The other two drivers were transported by ambulance to Sherman-area hospitals.
Just minutes later, with the highway backed up, another accident resulted in damage to four more cars and three more people transported to local hospitals.
Just north of Haning St. and with traffic at a near standstill, Marco Antonio Briones struck the car in front of him resulting in that vehicle being shoved into the left lane where it was struck from behind by another vehicle and hit a fourth vehicle, resulting in little damage to this final unwilling participant.
The man who started the chain reaction of carnage, Briones, was arrested and charged with intoxication assault. Witnesses reported that Briones did not appear to slow down at all before he struck the unlucky car in front of him. Witnesses also reported that Briones got out of his car and then sprayed himself down with cologne, though that move apparently did not fool Howe police officers.
HPD was assisted with the multiple accident scenes by responders from the Van Alstyne fire department and police department and the Texas Department of Public Safety.