JUST CAUSE: Widow seeks justice for slain Marine

Twenty-three month-old Evan Polanco is seen at his father's, Eddie Polanco's (below) grave at the Rio Grande Valley Veteran's State Cemetery on Easter Sunday 2012. (Courtesy photos)

Twenty-three month-old Evan Polanco is seen at his father’s, Eddie Polanco’s (below) grave at the Rio Grande Valley Veteran’s State Cemetery on Easter Sunday 2012. (Courtesy photos)

Special to the NEWS

Edoardo Polanco pic2-4-14-13

Edoardo Polanco

LOS FRESNOS – A Marine Corps Meritorious Mast award to Edoardo “Eddie” Polanco is on display at his home in Los Fresnos. Among the many achievements listed is Eddie Polanco’s participation in 25 tactical convoys covering over 6,000 miles in Iraq, where he served two tours before returning home safely.

The 25 year-old veteran Marine was killed less than 10 miles from his home while training for a San Antonio’s Rock N’ Roll Marathon on March 18, 2012, at the end of “Texas Week.” He was a junior in the Criminal Justice Department at the University of Texas at Brownsville, a father to a 10-month-old son, Evan, and had just married his wife, Kara Polanco, a month before.

According to a police report, Eddie Polanco was jogging down Texas Highway 100 when he was struck by a Mustang convertible driven by 25-year-old Juan Carlos Garcia at approximately 3:30 p.m. Juan Carlos Garcia allegedly attempted to flee the scene but was stopped by another vehicle.

According to a Brownsville Police Department law incident narrative, State Trooper Enrique Cantu of the Texas Department of Public Safety had conducted a motor vehicle stop on the silver Mustang in Laguna Vista prior to the accident. The narrative states that Trooper Cantu had noticed a Victor Garcia driving in and out of traffic. A citation was then issued and it was further noted that Victor Garcia did not appear intoxicated, the narrative reads. It was also reported that Cantu had suggested for Victor Garcia’s brother, Juan Carlos Garcia who was a passenger in the vehicle, to switch places and drive.

Authorities believe Juan Carlos Garcia fell asleep at the wheel and drove off the highway onto the grass before hitting Eddie Polanco.

Eddie Polanco was unresponsive when he was taken to Valley Regional Hospital in Brownsville, where he succumbed to his injuries, including major head trauma, after three hours.

Sergeant Johnny Hernandez of the Texas Department of Public Safety said that DPS would be unable to comment on pending litigation.

Grief-stricken and searching for justice for her husband, Kara Polanco has taken to social media and created the “Justice for Eddie Polanco” Facebook page in hopes of influencing what she hopes will be a fair sentencing for Juan Carlos Garcia.

The page has also served as a vessel for Kara Polanco’s online petition directed toward Judge Elia Cornejo Lopez and Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz. According to the petition, Juan Carlos Garcia may have already accepted a plea deal to serve six months in the county jail and five year’s probation. Those who’ve signed the petition hope Judge Cornejo Lopez will reject the deal and enforce a stricter punishment. While Polanco is within reach of her 1,000 signature goal, an outpouring of community support has helped her stay on track.

Still, there are some who have blamed the fatal accident on Eddie Polanco for jogging down the highway. “Joggers and cyclists have every right to be on the road; they should be protected under the law,” Kara Polanco said.

Some of the negative backlash received has spurred Kara Polanco to act. “I am starting an organization called ‘Right to Run!’ that will promote all the safety measures that Eddie practiced, like carrying his I.D.,” she said. “He would even write his blood-type on his hand, just not that day.”

According to Public Information Officer Melissa Zamora, Garcia has pleaded guilty to criminal negligent homicide, a state jail felony, and failure to stop and render aid, a third degree felony.

When asked if there was indeed a plea deal negotiated, Zamora did not comment.

Dr. Ben Brown, a Criminal Justice professor at UTB explained part of the sentencing process, saying, “The judge can accept or reject the plea bargain that the prosecution has presented, and the prosecution will have discretion over what charges to file”.

Garcia’s sentencing will be at 10 a.m. on May 23 in the 404th State District Court in Brownsville.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.sbnewspaper.com/2013/04/12/just-cause-widow-seeks-justice-for-slain-marine/


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    • aisha on April 19, 2013 at 3:09 pm
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    this heroic man’s death is not being recognized. Thats the way i see it. This is very disappointing and to hear from the loved one of this man crying and begging for justice of his death is just sad. This man worked hard to get where he was at and didn’t give up. im expecting the same for the loved ones not to give up. That is what i would do if i were in their shoes. I have 3 of my family members in the military and if they were to die just like this man did i would be very angry and wouldn’t give up till JUSTICE is given. This is unforgivable to the family and maybe even more than just family but other people that have members of their family in the military. I am 17 years old Studying criminal justice AND THIS NOT JUSTICE.
    Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr -.-

  1. I hope and pray the State Highway Department build’s a nice modern Rest Stop along HWY 100 between Los Fresnos and South Padre Island . Build’s a plaque in honor with the story of the accident and name’s the rest stop after Vetern Marine Edoardo Polanco hopeing all our young vistors who travel to South Padre Island read about his accident and incurrage drives to always be safe drivers by useig the rest stop to take breaks and rest before traveing back home from vacationing on South Padre Island. Eddie is everyone’s brother. He defended our rights to be free. He is a Valley Native who was born here and grew up here only to go serve his country when his country and the entire world need hin the most. I salute you Eddie.

    Philippians 1:10


    • Sandra Hernandez on April 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm
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    I believe this young man was a hero yet his death is being treated as though he was nothing. The failure to stop and render aid is called “HIT and RUN” where is the punishment for this? 100’s of inocent people have been getting killed for years due to Texas Week and Spring Breakers, and nothing ever seems to get done. What kind of meassage are we sending out to these spring breakers? That it’s okay come to Texas get drunk out of your mind, kill people and it’s okay you’ll only get a slap on the hand. I suppose the big bucks they come and spend on the Island is more important…………

    • Martha Marty on April 13, 2013 at 7:17 am
    • Reply

    This story is very touching. I pray the Judge rejects the plea barfing and throws the book at driver.
    These Valley judges are too easy. on these criminals.

    • Eric Galarza on April 13, 2013 at 2:46 am
    • Reply

    Mrs. Polanco, my heart filled thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. I remember Eddie from middle school. He was one of my football players my first year of coaching. I am so sorry for your loss; I do apologize for not hearing about this sooner. Please accept my sincere condolences.

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