Three members of the Thin Blue Line Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club were killed, and four others hospitalized, when an alleged drunk driver going in the opposite direction swerved into their lane and hit them head-on while they were on a group ride in the Texas Hill Country, officials said.
The crash occurred about 5 p.m. on Saturday on a highway in Kerrville, Texas, about 65 miles northwest of San Antonio, according to the Kerr County Sheriff’s Office.
“They were on a ride in the Texas Hill Country and were on Highway 16, south of Kerrville, when another person crosses the center stripe,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
Sgt. Orlando Moreno of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the agency leading the crash investigation, said the car ran into six motorcycles.
The sheriff’s office said the driver, who struck the motorcycle club members around noon, was arrested on several counts of intoxicated manslaughter and intoxication assault. Moreno said the name of the alleged drunk driver is not being released by his agency at this time.
“Please keep our brothers with the Thin Blue Line Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club in ya’lls prayers,” the statement from the sheriff’s office reads.
The motorcycle club, comprised of active and retired law enforcement officers and military service members, had gathered in Texas for the weekend to celebrate the group’s 11th birthday, according to a spokesman for the club.
The club members killed were identified as Joseph Paglia, Jerry Wayne Harbour and Michael White, according to a statement issued by David Weed, a spokesman for the club. Weed said the club members were attending the annual Thin Blue Line meeting in Bandera, Texas, and celebrating the club’s birthday.
Weed said Paglia was a former Niles City, Illinois, police officer and the president of the motorcycle club’s Chicago chapter. He said White, a former Chicago Community Services officer and U.S. Army veteran, was also a member of the Chicago chapter and served as its secretary.
Harbour, who was from Houston, was a Thin Blue Line National Ambassador, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and a retired Eastern Airlines pilot, Weed said.
“These men who spent their lives serving our Country and their communities with valor and honor,” Weed said in his statement.
He said the crash occurred when a group of club members went on a “leisurely motorcycle ride” headed back to Bandera after having lunch in Kerrville.
Sheriff’s officials said a total of nine people were injured. Four members of the group, three men and one woman, were taken to a hospital and treated for undisclosed injuries, Moreno said.