A Cypress resident was charged with three counts of murder Sunday after he ran a stop sign in his SUV and struck a golf cart, killing three people, authorities allege.

According to the criminal charges, Daniel Rivera, 21, was driving while intoxicated with a child passenger. Authorities say the crash occurred at approximately 3 a.m. in Cypress’ Towne Lake subdivision at the intersection of Greenhouse Road and Towne Lake Parkway.

The intersection is a four-way stop. It has traffic lights, but residents said they’ve been covered and inactive for several months. At a court hearing Sunday, Rivera was accused of driving a Cadillac Escalade that ran a stop sign as it traveled south through the intersection as the northbound golf cart was turning left.

A prosecutor said that Rivera’s blood alcohol content was .136 percent, exceeding the legal limit of .08 percent. Rivera’s bond was set at $200,000 for each murder charge, for a total of $600,000.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said two adults in the golf cart died at the scene, and a third person who was taken to a hospital in critical condition died later in the day.

Court records identified the victims as Jacob Wnuk, Fraser Anderson and Christopher Scandridge.

Gonzalez said at least three people were inside the SUV at the time of the crash, including a child who has since been reunited with relatives and appears to be uninjured. He said the SUV’s driver stayed at the scene.

“Right now, it’s very early in the investigation,” Gonzalez said. “We’ll have to piece everything together to consider all contributing factors. That’s all we have right now, but it was a devastating crash.”

Over the past several years, golf carts in Houston’s suburbs and master-planned communities such as Towne Lake have exploded in popularity. Safety has been a concern. In August 2022, four people were killed in Galveston when a drunk driver hit their golf cart.

Texas laws permit golf carts on roads with a 35 mph speed limit or lower; the law allows carts to cross streets with higher speed limits like Greenhouse Road, which is 40 mph.

Towne Lake is a place where residents can park boats behind their houses. Resident Ethan Etzel, 40, said many of his neighbors have golf carts and take them to nearby parks or the Boardwalk, the neighborhood’s main commercial development.

“I know several people who moved from Bridgeland to Towne Lake so they could have the golf-cart scenario,” Etzel said. “Because in Bridgeland, you have these great parks but you have to get in a car.”

Inactive traffic lights at Town Lake Parkway in Cypress
Inactive traffic lights on Town Lake Parkway in Cypress, where three people died Sunday after an SUV collided with their golf cart. (Monroe Trombly / Houston Landing)

The intersection and surrounding roads have become increasingly congested in recent years, Towne Lake residents told the Houston Landing. It’s normal to see a half-mile long line of cars in either direction during the evening rush hour.

“It’s probably confusing, too. You see lights and you’re like ‘Oh, there’s nothing.’ You miss the stop sign,’” said Etzel, who moved to Towne Lake more than two years ago in large part due to its amenities.

Jim Harris, who’s lived in the neighborhood for nearly four years, thinks the traffic lights won’t be activated until construction converting a portion of Greenhouse Road from a two lane to a four-lane divided road is completed. He hopes the added lanes and lights will help alleviate congestion, but says speeding in the neighborhood is a real problem.

“It’s just something you have to live with in Houston,” said the recent retiree.

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Tim Carlin is the Houston Landing's civic engagement reporter. An Ohio native, Tim comes to Houston after spending a year in Greenville, South Carolina, covering Greenville County government for The Greenville...

Monroe Trombly is a public safety reporter at the Houston Landing. Monroe comes to Texas from Ohio. He most recently worked at the Columbus Dispatch, where he covered breaking and trending news. Before...