Jason Bernal turns himself in after being charged in death of father in boat incident

Emani Payne reports.

TEMPLE - Jason Bernal who was charged with criminally negligent homicide for the death of Patrick Oliver turn himself into authorities Monday morning. 

Bernal’s attorney, Barrett Thomas said he worked with local police over a two day span to coordinate a safe booking for Bernal's latest charge.

This comes after Temple Police suggested they were searching for Bernal and asked for the public's help to locate him. The agency has since apologized and admitted that was the result of bad communication on their part.

Patrick Oliver died last week from his injuries after being struck by a houseboat operated by Bernal several weeks ago.

Patrick’s daughter Kaitlyn was struck and killed by the boat at the time of the incident.

Bernal also received the same charge for Kaitlyn’s death.  

He is in the Bell County Jail with a bond is set at $200,000. 

Thomas released the following statement:

I have seen various reports indicating that Mr. Bernal is “on the run,” and that the community should assist law enforcement in finding him.  I have personally been in contact with law enforcement, including the Bell County District Attorney’s Office, the investigating officer at Temple Police Department, and a Bell County Jail supervisor for over two days.  We have worked together over those two days to coordinate a safe and efficient booking on the second complaint.  To say he is on the run is simply not true.

What is true, is that Mr. Bernal has already posted one $150,000 bond, and now he has been asked to post another $200,000 bond.  That high of a bond on even one case of this level is extraordinary.  Please investigate for yourself what the typical bond range is for offenses of this level.  What is also true is that Mr. Bernal has no significant recent criminal history, there is currently no evidence he was intoxicated on the day of the accident, and that several witnesses have indicated his engine was running and he yelled, “clear,” well before backing up his boat.  Finally, it is true that Mr. Bernal has not yet been indicted – and may not ever be.  Any charges against him have to be reviewed by the grand jury and that can’t happen until the investigation is complete.

I agree with the community that this is an unspeakable tragedy.  In fact, aside from the family of the victims, probably nobody feels that more than Mr. Bernal who is overwhelmed with grief.  However, we must withhold judgment while this case is investigated.  To convict an innocent man without due process for nothing more than a horrible accident would simply be another tragedy.

Channel 6 spoke with the Crotty Funeral Home who will be handling funeral arrangements for Kaitlyn and Patrick Oliver free of charge. The joint funeral will be held Saturday at 3:00 p.m. at Temple Bible Church and is open to the public. There will also be a balloon release following the service. 

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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