Driver who killed Royal Palm Beach students under investigation for DUI manslaughter

Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 12:36 PM EDT
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The man who hit and killed two Royal Palm Beach students at a school bus stop last week was stumbling around, lethargic, and had more than two dozen non-narcotic prescription pills inside his vehicle at the time of the crash, according to multiple Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office search warrants obtained by WFLX on Wednesday.

According to the warrants, investigators believed Angel Antonio Lopez, 57, was impaired, and the sheriff's office is now investigating him for DUI manslaughter.

Lopez, however, has not been arrested or charged in the case. Officials said he is cooperating with them.

The sheriff's office said Lopez was driving a 2018 Alfa Romero Stelvio around 7 a.m. on March 22 and lost control, drove onto a sidewalk, and struck four Royal Palm Beach Community High School students who were waiting for their school bus at the intersection of Crestwood Boulevard South and Cypress Lake Drive.

Two of those children, a boy and girl, both 15, tragically passed away last week. Two others — ages 16 and 17 — are out of the hospital and recovering from their injuries.

According to three separate PBSO search warrants obtained by WFLX on Wednesday, the first-responding deputy at the crash scene believed Lopez was “impaired,” saying “he got out of the driver seat and stumbled around when he walked.”

A PBSO investigator who later arrived at the scene said "he saw indications of impairment" in Lopez, adding that the driver "had slow movements and seemed lethargic."

According to the warrants, Lopez told another PBSO investigator he was driving northbound on Crestwood Boulevard South, hit a curb, and "he didn't know what happened after that."

The investigator said Lopez "appeared lethargic, slow and seemed dehydrated. His pupils were constricted and his mouth was dry. He had trouble keeping his eyes open and the sunlight seemed to bother him," the warrants stated.

Lopez "stumbled while standing and walking" and "he had trouble getting up and down losing his balance," the investigator said in the warrants.

A witness who saw Lopez's vehicle crashed on the northbound side of Crestwood Boulevard South and called 911 said Lopez was "stumbling around and seemed disoriented," the warrants said. That witness told investigators she thought Lopez might have had a head injury.

Three of the teen victims were taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach. The two 15-year-old children who would later pass away suffered “grave injuries” and “massive head trauma,” the warrants said

A 17-year-old boy had injuries to his face and a 16-year-old boy who was taken to HCA Florida Palms West Hospital suffered a leg injury. Both are now out of the hospital.

Dispatch records from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office showed Lopez went to the HCA Florida Palms West Hospital emergency room, but later left the hospital against medical advice with an IV still in his arm.

The sheriff's office executed a search warrant on Lopez's 2018 Alfa Romero Stelvio and found 27 non-narcotic prescription pills and two brown unmarked pill bottles inside.

Investigators also collected DNA and hair samples from inside the vehicle.

According to documents obtained by WFLX Contact 5 Investigators, the sheriff’s office also searched a black backpack found next to the car. Inside were a black Knox vaping pen with a brown liquid, a brown bottle labeled SUN MED with liquid inside, two white bottles labeled Tren 75 — which sells online as a legal testosterone supplement — 161 brown capsules, and a bottle of Clear Eyes eye drops.

A third search warrant was obtained by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office to search the Alfa Romero Stelvio's "event data recorder," a device inside the vehicle that stores information like speed changes and the driver's actions.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Lopez’s wife refused to comment to WFLX and directed any questions to their attorney.

A PBSO spokeswoman told WFLX on Tuesday that charges against Lopez are “likely,” but cautioned their timetable could be a long one.

Investigators are still waiting for Lopez's toxicology report to come back, along with other records.

In addition, the PBSO spokeswoman said it takes time for authorities to "map" the scene, using a surveying-type machine with law enforcement software that helps investigators reconstruct the scene based on data and evidence.

Once an arrest is made in any case, investigators must have the case "court ready" in 20 days, the spokeswoman said.

After the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office completes its investigation, the findings will be presented to the State Attorney's Office, which will determine possible charges.

A spokesman for the State Attorney’s Office told WFLX on Tuesday it cannot comment on an active investigation.

Records reviewed by WFLX show Lopez is the owner and operator of Hygienic Solutions Incorporated, a Wellington-based janitorial business.

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