Retired Dallas firefighter dies days after alleged drunken driver hit him


A retired Dallas firefighter died Wednesday after an alleged drunk driver plowed into his motorcycle and fled over the weekend.

Charlie Contreras’ death came a day after family had gathered at Baylor University Medical Center while he was on life support.

Contreras, who retired in 2011 after 33 years with Dallas Fire-Rescue, had been in the hospital since Sunday. A witness told police Contreras was riding his motorcycle with a passenger in Old East Dallas at the intersection of Graham Avenue and East Grand Avenue when a Dodge Ram blew through a red light and slammed into him about 2 a.m.

Contreras’ passenger was injured.

Police say the driver, Juan Diaz Lizama, fled but was later caught. He denied drinking but failed a field sobriety test, police said. Officers say they saw 10 empty Corona bottles in his pickup, but another adult in the car said she drank about half of them. He also had four children in the pickup.

Diaz Lizama, 20, is living in the country illegally. He has been charged with intoxication assault and accident involving a serious bodily injury, though the charges could change now. Diaz Lizama is being held in Dallas County jail in lieu of $400,000 bail.

Dallas Fire-Rescue Lt. Cristian Hinojosa, president of the Dallas Hispanic Firefighters’ Association, said Contreras enjoyed riding his motorcycle and spending time with his adult children. Hinojosa said Tuesday that Contreras always had a smile and was “very friendly.”

“He’s just a talker. He’s got the gift of gab,” Hinojosa said. “He’s one of those guys where you show up somewhere, and if he’s the only guy you knew, you’d be happy to run into him so you’d have someone to talk to.”

By Tristan Hallman – Staff Writer – The Dallas Morning News
Published: 29 April 2015