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Monday, August 08, 2016

Driver who killed a man in a fatal hit-and-run gets killed the same way in Dallas

George Thomas Kohoutek had already been convicted of drunken driving twice when he made a violent turn and plowed his red Jeep into a Dallas landscape worker, killing him. 
He sped away but landed in jail the next day, after his older brother tipped off police. Kohoutek's family hoped the arrest would force him to confront his addiction to alcohol.
That was 26 years ago. On July 20, Kohoutek, 64, was the one struck by a car, while jogging in Pleasant Grove. He died a week later, after his estranged brother decided to unplug the machines that were keeping him alive. 
It was the end of a rap sheet that extended beyond the fatal 1990 hit-and-run. The wake-up call his family prayed for never came.
"The suffering he had caused himself and others ... was about to end right then," John Kohoutek said Sunday. "It was just so ironic that he was killed the same way he took the other life."
Dallas police arrested Andrew Lee Laymond, 68,  the day after the crash. They charged him with accident involving serious bodily injury. Laymond posted bond within hours. Records do not indicate that alcohol was a factor. 
He couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.
Witnesses told police that Kohoutek was jogging along a crosswalk area in the 3400 block of South Buckner Boulevard at night when Laymond's Ford van hit him. Kohoutek rolled off the left side of the van, breaking off a mirror, police said.
Laymond fled, but police tracked him down with the help of a picture taken by a witness, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. 
Laymond told officers that he saw a flash of white and thought he had hit debris. 
The people who witnessed Kohoutek hit Rafael Caracheo 26 years earlier thought he did it on purpose.
On Jan. 27, 1990, Kohoutek was traveling north in the 8100 block of Inwood Road just north of Lovers Lane when he made a U-turn, jumped a median and accelerated. Police said he knocked Caracheo as he crossed the street and carried him several blocks on the Jeep's hood before he was thrown off.
Caracheo was walking to the landscaping job that supported his wife and their 6-year-old son in Dallas. He sent what little money was left to his mother and sisters in Mexico.
It was at the request of Caracheo's wife — pregnant with the couple's second son at the time of the accident — that Kohoutek's murder charge was downgraded to voluntary manslaughter. 
The Caracheo family couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.
Kohoutek pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was out on parole two years later.
His release brought more heartache for his family. 
Texas court records show that Kohoutek unsuccessfully fought a drug possession charge in 1993. He didn't contest two other offenses: harassment of a public servant in 2009 and an assault at Parkland Memorial Hospital in 2012.
The mop of brown hair in Kohoutek's 2015 mug shot was the only hint of the popular teen he was at Thomas Jefferson High School, where he suited up for the swim team, arranged props for musicals and played charades in French club. As a young boy growing up in the home of a World War II veteran, he was put to bed with prayers, his brother said. 
He graduated in 1969 and went on to college but never finished a degree, his brother said. 
By 1990, he had been busted for breaking his brother's nose, pointing a handgun at a construction worker and stealing steaks from a grocery store by dumping them in his pants. Every time, he was drunk.
Kohoutek had real estate broker's licenses in Texas and Colorado, but his family couldn't recall him ever selling a house.
His brother — a recovering alcoholic himself — said he tried to help, but Kohoutek had a knack for getting kicked out of halfway houses and Alcoholics Anonymous groups. Their parents died years ago.
Kohoutek had found a place to live in the nursing home across the street from where he was struck.
A mutual friend called Kohoutek's brother about 3 a.m. the  day after he was hit to tell him about the accident.  John Kohoutek said he had grown so jaded by his brother's antics that he went back to sleep.
When he arrived at Baylor University Medical Center later that day, he found his brother in critical condition. "The dam was leaking in 15 different places," he said.
Before the life-support machines were turned off a week later, John Kohoutek approached his brother's bed and recited Gospel verses from memory. He felt a wave of relief.
"I am convinced that he's with my parents," he said Sunday. "I just know that."
John Kohoutek tried donating his brother's body to a medical school, but he said it was rejected because of liver damage.
Now, he has decided on cremation. He said he doesn't have enough money to place his brother in their parents' mausoleum at Sparkman Hillcrest Memorial Park near Highland Park, but he will be able to get him a marker with his name, at Hillcrest or elsewhere.
John Kohoutek also agreed to give a eulogy at a memorial service Saturday organized by an Alcoholics Anonymous group. 
He said he forgave his brother a long time ago, that it was his way of ending the agony over what his brother would do next.
"I did all I could do," he said. "I did what I was supposed to do."
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR GEORGE KOHOUTEK
10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Mark Presbyterian Church, 9999 Ferguson Road, near Bryan Adams High School
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