Tomás Mejía Tol was charged with criminal negligent homicide and endangering a child on Friday night for causing the man's death by allowing a “child to operate a motor vehicle with no driver’s license and no driving experience,” according to documents from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
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The victim, Enrique Vázquez, was walking his three dogs on Thursday afternoon near an apartment complex where Mejía lived when he was fatally struck by an SUV driven by the girl, according to authorities.
Police told NBC affiliate KPRC in Houston that the girl apparently “hit the gas instead of the brake.” Vázquez died at the scene and one of his dogs died later.
Mejía, who was in the vehicle at the time with a 2-year-old child, said that he was teaching his daughter how to drive, Sean Teare, chief of the Vehicular Crimes Unit at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, told NBC News.
“This is why you don’t teach a 12-year-old how to drive; much less in a crowded and populated area with a 2-year-old in the car,” said Teare, adding that the daughter is “also a victim in this case” and that she will receive counseling.
“People don’t think of cars as a deadly weapon,” said Teare. “These kill as many people as firearms.”
Mejía is expected to have his next court appearance on Monday Aug. 19 at 9 a.m., documents show. He faces up to two years in jail for each charge.
Nicole Acevedo is a staff reporter at NBC News Digital where she reports, writes and produces content for NBC Latino and NBCNews.com.