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Man charged in soldier’s death

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Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:50 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON - A Bell County grand jury on Wednesday indicted a 37-year-old San Antonio man accused of causing a fatal accident while driving drunk.

Charges of intoxicated manslaughter will move forward against Philip Ray Hernandez. If convicted, Hernandez could face up to 20 years in prison.

Hernandez is charged in the death of a 31-year-old Fort Hood soldier, Sgt. Chad Richard Clifton of Wilmington, Del. Clifton died July 1 when Hernandez's Ford Escape struck Clifton's Ford F-350, which had broken down on northbound Interstate 35 near Salado, said Murff Bledsoe, assistant Bell County district attorney.

Court documents state a Texas Department of Public Safety state Trooper made contact with Clifton at 11:42 the night of his death. Clifton told the officer his truck stopped working and he was waiting for a tow truck.

The officer left the scene, near mile post 284 on the interstate, but 12 minutes later received a report of a car crash in the same area.

When the trooper arrived, he saw Clifton's truck in the grass median with damage to its rear and a Ford Escape with damage to its front end.

A Salado police officer located Clifton lying in the grass with no signs of life. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Bledsoe said Clifton was either standing alongside or in front of his truck when Hernandez's vehicle hit the truck.

The Salado officer smelled alcohol on Hernandez's breath. Hernandez later told a state trooper he was drinking, an arrest affidavit states.

Hernandez told medical personnel his car was struck from behind, causing him to lose control and hit Clifton's vehicle. However, a trooper found no evidence of a collision on the rear of Hernandez's Ford Escape.

Crash analysis showed Hernandez maintained a constant speed of 66.5 mph and did not brake during the five seconds leading up to the crash. A test showed Hernandez's blood alcohol content to be 0.17, more than twice the legal limit.

An online obituary states Clifton served in the U.S. Army from 2002 until his death. He was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq a total of five times and was awarded the Bronze Star.

The grand jury also returned indictments against the following:

Brandon Charles Roane, 18, of Harker Heights, on a charge of burglary of a habitation.

Michael Vasquez, 23, of Killeen, on a charge of assault by strangulation.

Wardell Dixon Jr., 50, of Killeen, on a charge of burglary of a building.

Aaron John Stephens, 19, of Killeen, on a charge of burglary of a habitation.

Coy Burney IV, 21, of Killeen, on a charge of burglary of a habitation.

Trevor Jerome Miller, 24, of Killeen, on a charge of burglary of a habitation.

Donald Lee Wright, 43, of Temple, on a charge of forgery by passing.

Thomas Gene Jones, 19, of Temple, on a charge of theft over $1,500.

Joe John Ocanas, 48, of Temple, on a charge of theft over $1,500.

Christopher Rashod Kindred, 17, of Temple, on a charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

Rogelio Carmona Flores, 34, of Temple, on a charge of assault by strangulation.

David Tobias Teverbaugh, 31, of Temple, on a charge of injury to a child.

Jonathan Scott Thompson, 22, of Belton, on a charge of possession of methamphetamine, less than 1 gram.

Albert Gilmore, 40, of Temple, on a charge of possession of cocaine, 1 gram or more.

Kaylene Crawford, 50, of Temple, on a charge of possession of cocaine, less than 1 gram.

Contact Philip Jankowski at philipj@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553.

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