Before the storm one innocent Northside family Saw their home destroyed by suicidal truck driver

Tom Kennedy

This story happened before the storm. Yet it stands as another example of how HPD officers have close connections with the communities they serve, whether in Northeast, Southwest or in any other quadrant or patrol niche in the big city they serve.

The episode started the morning of July 10 with an unexpected bang!

Alex Palacios, a disabled retiree, and his wife, Velia, were awake but still in bed in the 100 block of Parker when a pickup truck plowed through the front wall of their house and into their bedroom. Velia told reporters, “The truck was in my face!”

The truck was driven by a suicidal driver. He hasn’t been charged with any crime.

Yet the crash virtually destroyed the Palacios home, which was fully paid for and provided a home for not just Alex and Velia but also grandmother Gloria, 87, pregnant daughter Elizabeth, daughter Brittany, 24, and their husbands, Argant and Bryan.

Like so many victims of unfortunate circumstances, the Palacios family saw things get worse after the truck crashed through their house.

As Elizabeth described the driver, “He was claiming he wanted to kill himself and chose our home to do so. My parents were in bed and in their room when the truck hit. Luckily they or no one was injured in the process of all of this.

“My father was on a waiting list to get back surgery and due to the nature of the incident he was put on hold again because his current doctor wants to get another MRI. The guy hit the corner of our house, taking out all of our main utilities – electricity, gas and water as well as taking out the main beam that holds the house up.”

The family was taken aback and didn’t know what to do. Elizabeth appealed to the community for help. The investigating officers from North Patrol also saw the unfortunate fate involved here, while the truck driver could not be charged and his family could offer no monetary help.

Officer Catina Johnson of the North Priority Investigative Unit got the details and proceeded to take action beyond the call of duty.

She met with the family and kept track of details. Johnson told the Badge & Gun, “They stated they have truly appreciated the response from the community, family and friends who have thus far having donated to the Go Fund Me page, which as of (Aug. 23) funding totals $4,775, a quarter of the way toward their goal of $20,000.

“The Houston Police Officers Union contributed $500, North Station $287, a nearby church $500 and a few bystanders have knocked on their door in passing, giving small gifts.”

They submitted an application to the Housing Authority but had to make decisions before the authority officials come back to them with a decision.

Johnson learned that the family decided to purchase a new manufactured home. “They have been approved on a loan,” she said, “However, their frustration lays on the hardship this will cause to the family having a new mortgage when their existing home was paid off.”

Replacing the home isn’t the only problem on their list. They estimated that they will have another $10,000 in other expenses, including the cost of demolition, removal of a tree, utility reconnection costs and the cost of a storage unit that will be needed until their new home is ready.

“These cost do not include the hardship that will soon come of temporary relocating the family members and pets during the transition period of a few days,” Johnson reported. “They state they will most likely try to split up a stay with family here and there so the burden of their large family is not amongst one family members household.

“Almost two months later, it is still a very emotional time for the family.”

This is but one typical example of the caring and sharing of HPD officers who are willing to help people in need throughout the communities they serve.

That concern and resulting action was multiplied many, many times during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the worst Texas storm in history.