Local family’s vigilance leads to arrest of suspected drunken driver

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GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) A Gatesville woman and her husband not only followed a black Dodge pickup whose driver was swerving in and out of his lane and off the roadway, just missing several vehicles before hitting a guardrail, but also called 911 and detained the driver until police and deputies arrived.

Tiffany Butler, her husband James, and the couple’s two sons were leaving Gatesville to go hunting earlier this month, but the trip was interrupted after the pulled onto State Highway 36 and spotted the westbound pickup. (Courtesy photo)

Tiffany Butler, her husband James, and the couple’s two sons were leaving Gatesville to go hunting earlier this month, but the trip was interrupted after the pulled onto State Highway 36 and spotted the westbound pickup swerving in and out of their lane.

The Butlers abandoned their plans and began to tail the truck.

"If we were coming the opposite direction we would’ve wanted someone to stop that," Butler said.

Butler, who’s a Coryell City volunteer firefighter, says she was determined to do everything she could to stop the driver.

"One of my jobs as a first responder it to make sure we help people," Butler said.

“When I see it I have to act."

As James drove, Tiffany called 911, talking first to the Coryell County Sheriff’s Office and then the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office as the truck crossed into the neighboring county, all the while trying to alert other motorists on the highway about the potential danger.

“We were flashing our lights, waving our hand, honking, trying to do everything we could do to get the attention of other people," she said.

Tiffany also was using her cellphone camera to record video of the truck.

The driver pulled off the highway at a home between Jonesboro and Hamilton “and was attempting to possibly steal a car,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by KWTX.

"That’s when we took it upon ourselves to not only save his life, but the life of anyone else coming down the road at the same time," Butler said.

Her husband was able to hold the man down until Hamilton police and Hamilton County deputies arrived.

Butler says she is just grateful no one was hurt.

"There is no words that can express how thankful I am," she says.

"I want people to learn a lesson from this, if you see it report it."

A deputy “detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” coming from the man and a search of the pickup turned up a handgun and several long guns, the affidavit said.

“Subject showed signs of intoxication such as watery and bloodshot eyes, as well as slurred speech,” the affidavit said.

The man, identified in the affidavit as Christian Rene Rodriguez, failed a standard field sobriety test, but refused to take a Breathalyzer test, the affidavit says.

After obtaining a warrant, deputies took him to Hamilton General Hospital where blood was drawn.

They then took him to the Mills County Jail where he was charged with driving while intoxicated and unlawfully carrying a weapon by a permit holder, the affidavit says.

He was released the next day after posting a $4,000 bond.

The sheriff’s office says it’s grateful for the Butler’s vigilance.

"The agency would like to extend their appreciation to the Butlers, for going above and beyond in this particular matter. After review of the video, it is quite possible that lives were saved as a result of their willingness to take action."