Wednesday, June 4, 2014

3/19/87 In Wake of Auto Accident One Dead, Two Others Missing

While friends and relatives mourned the death of 19-year-old Michelle Bergier at a memorial service Wednesday, families of two teen-age boys last seen with Bergier clung to hope that the boys had not suffered the same fate.

Meanwhile, Galveston police are attempting to track down a possible witness of the automobile accident which left Bergier on the rocks beneath Galveston seawall Sunday where, according to a Galveston County coroner's report, she died of drowning.

Investigator Jack Dawson said police learned Wednesday that a travelling salesman reportedly told someone at the Seahorse Motel where the teens were staying that he had witnessed an accident.

Dawson said police have talked to the salesman's family who said he is Illinois. At press time, police were still trying to contact the man.

"We're hoping he can tell us what time the accident happened, and more importantly, whether the boys were in the car," Dawson said.

Missing are Jeff Sandoval and Roland Rodriguez, both 17-year-old Dobie students. They and Bergier were among a group of five South Belt area teens who had driven to Galveston Saturday and had planned on returning Sunday afternoon.

That plan went awry early Sunday morning according to Galveston police, when the three decided to leave the Seahorse Motel around 3 to 4 a.m. to get something to eat.

Police, family members, and even college and high school students in Galveston on spring break have been searching along the beach for any clues. High winds and low visibility  have made water and air searches difficult.

"If they are in the water, so many things will affect how long it will take for the bodies to come up," Dawson said. "Water temperature, tides, undercurrents, and winds all play a role."

Dawson said it seems odd that the boys could have been thrown from the small two-door sedan. He added, however, that it was odd that the boys have no contact with anyone if they are alive.

At press time, parents of the boys remained hopeful that the boys were not in the car and simply scared to come forward.

"We just hope somehow or another they're hiding because of the consequences," said Maggie Sandoval, mother of Jeff Sandoval.

Rodriquez' mother, Ramona, said she is unsure of what to believe regarding whether the boys were in the car. "Sometimes my heart tells me, 'Yes, they were in the car,' and sometimes it tell me, 'No.'"

The car, a 1984 Nissan, belongs to local resident James Upshaw, whose daughter Lisa was among the group. Upshaw said that Lisa awakened at he Seahorse Motel around 4 a.m. Sunday morning and found the three were gone as was her car.

He said Lisa called a friend who told her not to panic, but to wait awhile to see if they returned.

Dawson said Lisa told police she knew the three were leaving in her car.

Upshaw said he was getting ready to go to church Sunday morning when Galveston Police called and said his car had been in an accident and that a girl's body had been found. When he arrived at the Galveston Police Station he discovered that Bergier, not his daughter Lisa, had been killed.

Bergier's body was found around 7 a.m. Sunday morning by a passing resident who flagged down a patrolling officer, said Dawson.

Dr. Victor Weedn who performed the autopsy said it was apparent Bergier had been thrown from the car. Police said all car windows and most of the front windshield were broken out.

Traffic accident investigators are attempting to piece together what caused the accident.

Dawson said the wrecker making the scene said the vehicle was probably travelling in excess of 100 miles per hour when it hit the seawall and flipped over.

Weedn said the preliminary autopsy revealed Bergier had suffered a broken right shoulder and several superficial abrasions, probably from the waves beating her body against the rocks.

Memorial services for Bergier were held Wednesday at Sagemont Baptist Church. Her body was donated to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Bergier was a sales clerk at Foley's and was a cosmetology student at San Jacinto College South.

The Dobie Graduate had been names the 1986 Lariette of the Year while still in high school.

She is survived by parents Yvonne and Donald Bergier, sisters Monique and Donna Bergier, all of Sagemont; grandmother Wilhelmina Henss of Tuscson, Ariz,; uncle Robert Henss of Phoenix; aunt and uncle Norine and Bill Gorrell of Colorad; and cousins Mark, Fed, and Yvette Henss and Annette, Danny, and Sandy Gorrell.

The following week:

Funeral services have been held for the two South Belt boys found washed upon the Galveston beach following a Sunday automobile accident which also killed 19-year-old resident Michelle Bergier

Preliminary autopsies revealed all three died of drowning apparently after being throw from their vehicle which hit the Galveston seawall at a high rate of speed early on March 15.

While Bergier was found shortly after the accident, the boys were found some four days later, about 15 hours apart., said police.

The body of Jeff Sandoval, 17, was found around 2:45 a.m. Thursday by a patrol officer, about three miles east of the crash which occurred at the 9800 block of Seawall Boulevard, said Galveston Police Det. Jack Dawson. He said ocean experts had informed police to look east of the crash based on the direction of the current.

About 5:30 p.m. the same day swimmers spotted the body of Roland Rodriquez, 17, about a half a miles from where Sandoval had been found, Dawson said.

The families of the two Dobie students had held out hope that the boys had either escaped the crash unharmed or had not been in the car. Police are awaiting autopsy reports to determine which of the three were driving, Dawson said.

Services for Sandoval were Saturday, March 21 at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church. Interment was at Forest Park East.

He is survived by parents Gregory and Maggie Sandoval; sisters Sandra Alaniz and husband Martin; Janet and Jennifer Sandoval; grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Manuel Padilla and Mrs. Luz Sandoval; step-sister Olivia English, all of Houston. Services for Rodriguez were Monday March 23 at St. Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church. Interment was at Forest Park East. He is survived by parents Luciano and Ramona Rodriguez Jr., brothers Luciano Rodriguez III, Anthony Rodriguez, all of Houston; grandparents Luciano and Juanita Rodriguez and Justina Gonzales, of Galveston; and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. 

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