Bartender charged in 2017 drunk driving death of teen coming from prom

HOUSTON—The Harris County District Attorney announced that bartender Natalia Ortiz, 25, has been arrested and charged for her role in the drunk driving death of Jocelyn Valero.

Ortiz is charged with two counts of serving alcohol to an intoxicated person and forgery for allegedly using a stolen social security number.

According to police, Ortiz served 11 beers to Edin Palacios at the El Muelle Seafood and Oyster Bar located at 6705 Airline Dr in May 2016.

Palacios, who was visibly intoxicated, drove away from the restaurant in his Ford F-150, ran a red light and crashed into Valero, who was on her way home from her prom. Valero was killed, and her prom date was injured.

Palacios, 26, was convicted of murder on April 6 and sentenced to 32 years in prison.

“Two years and two days after the anniversary of this tragedy, it is prom season again,” Vehicular Crimes Division Chief Sean Teare said. “It is time for everyone to reflect on the responsibilities they have when serving or consuming alcohol.”

The arrest marks the latest prosecution for a new District Attorney’s Office task force that starts its work at crash scenes and traces events backward to find the source of the alcohol.

Another Houston bartender, Amy Allen, 40, was charged with criminal negligence for allegedly letting underage friends drink alcohol without checking them for identification. The friends drove away from the bar and crashed into a car, killing Shayla Joseph, 36, and her 3-month-old baby boy, Braylon.

“We are going after the very small percentage of servers and establishments out there who negligently and criminally serve alcohol to drunks or minors,” he said.