By CLINT FOSTER
Texas Department of Public Safety officers arrested a man in connection with the death of Alton Harold Alexander.
Alexander, 61, was struck while riding his horse on U.S. Highway 180 West of Mineral Wells on Saturday night.
Texas Department of Public Safety Senior Trooper Gary M. Rozzell confirmed Wednesday that a DPS officer arrested Julian Morado, 38, of Mineral Wells, Sunday, for intoxication manslaughter with a vehicle, driving with an invalid license and failure to stop after an accident and render aid. Two of those charges are felonies.
Alexander was riding his horse, Swigs, and flagging traffic Saturday night next to a covered wagon, pulled by a mule team and full of his friends and family.
Alexander and his friends and family frequently made such trail rides for fun.
Morado was allegedly intoxicated when he hit Alexander with his 2002 Mazda Tribute SUV from behind, throwing Alexander off his horse.
Eyewitnesses report this was a hit-and-run.
Alexander was flown by Air Evac Lifeteam to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where he was pronounced dead later that night.
His horse, Swigs, died that night as well, and was buried on the side of the road.
Coy Garland, Alexander’s “podnuh,” was riding his horse alongside the wagon on the night of the incident.
On Wednesday afternoon, he stood next to Alexander’s casket – made of beautiful wood with brands on the corners and Alexander’s black, felt cowboy hat and locks of Swigs’ hair resting on top.
Surrounded by friends and family Garland recalled the events of Saturday night.
Garland said this trail ride was in celebration of another podnuh’s birthday. They planned to have a good time riding around before they would stop at the grand opening of a new watering hole for food and a blind date he had set up for Alexander.
Garland rode behind the wagon to slow traffic, while Alexander rode in the front. They had flags and, he said, the lights of the wagon were on.
Garland added it was dusk, but still light enough to see. He said they had never had problems with cars not respecting their space on the shoulder before.
“We crossed 337 there and I turned back and looked and saw this car come barreling over the hill,” Garland said. “He stayed real close to the white line and didn’t scoot over at all, didn’t slow down at all. I tried to get his attention and move him over or slow him down. He buzzed right by the wagon and they could have reached out and slapped his mirror.
“I went to whooping and spurring and saw him hit Alton from behind. Alton kinda looked like he was just on another bronc. That horse humped up his back and [Alton] turned and looked back behind him to try and figure out what was going on.
“I got there to hold his head and neck in case [he suffered] trauma. I dragged him out from underneath the horse.
“My brother and Jake and everyone else jumped on the horse to keep the horse from kicking him too much [and] we pulled the saddle off of him,” he said.
Garland noted that everyone in the wagon witnessed what happened and did what they could to help Alexander. He added that every one of them were his heroes.
“I just held him and watched him look at me one time and try to say something to me,” he continued. “He was breathing, but... I think he saw the light and came to us to say goodbye and then went back toward the light or something, I don’t know.
“We sat there until the medics arrived ... and helped them as much as we could. [The medics] got him out and taken care of and then we had to take care of poor Swigs.”
Garland said it wasn’t long before he received a call saying Alexander had passed. He said later on, a veterinarian arrived at the scene and euthanized Swigs.
It is still hard for Garland to think back on the emotional events of that evening and his podnuh’s passing.
With tears in his voice, he ushered up the strength to speak on behalf of the family.
“There’s a lot of people in this town that knew [Alexander] and loved him,” he said. “I believe I speak for all friends and family in saying that we will miss Alton, he was taken from us too soon, but we’re all glad that he went out with his boots and spurs on, on his horse and he took his horse with him. And we all believe that him and Swigs are riding greener pastures.”
Garland said he wanted readers to know that Alexander’s dog will be taken care of and that when people see him, to still wave or bring him a biscuit. He added that Alexander’s wife and ex-wife, as well as his five daughters and two grandchildren each received a lock of hair from Swigs’ tail in memory of the horseman and his steed.
Morado, also known as “Flacco,” is being held on bond for a total of $82,500 in Palo Pinto County Jail.
A funeral service for Alexander will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. in the chapel of Baum-Carlock-Bumgardner Funeral Home.
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