Man Wanted For Okmulgee County Drunk Driving Death On The Run

Friday, July 13th 2012, 7:36 pm
By: News On 6

A Haskell man, wanted for manslaughter after a deadly drunk driving wreck, is on the run. He walked out of a hospital while he was supposed to be in custody.

"My mama got killed by a drunk driver," said 4-year-old Chase.

Chase was only two when his mom, Tonia Cooksey Cruz, was killed.

"It's hard raising a 4-year-old without his mama," said Cruz's mother, Brenda Cooksey.

Cruz and Clay Reynolds were driving in Okmulgee County in July of 2010, when investigators say James Austin Brown, 51, from Haskell, crossed into their lane and hit them head on.

A cross on the side of the road marks the place where the two friends died.

Brown survived, and court documents say he was driving drunk.

7/9/2012 Related Story: Okmulgee Authorities Searching In Tulsa Area For Man Wanted For Manslaughter

Cruz's mother said she was dismayed to find out Brown was no longer in custody.

"Oh, I was so frustrated. I was so upset. I mean, I just felt like, ‘What else is going to happen? How much more can I take?'" Cooksey said.

The Okmulgee County Sheriff's Office said Brown was last known to be in the Tulsa area.

"If he is seeing this, I want him to turn himself in. We need the closure. We need closure," Cooksey said. "If it were his kids, he'd want the same."

Brown was in the Okmulgee County jail for Cruz's manslaughter case, but transferred to the Muskogee County jail to face unrelated charges there.

He was then taken to St. Francis hospital for heart surgery, and was released this week before Okmulgee County could arrest him.

"I can't change what's happened, but we need to go forward, and we can't go forward until we get the justice we need," Cooksey said. 

July 17 is the anniversary of Cruz's death. Cooksey said she hopes Brown is caught before then.

Brown is balding and has blue eyes. He's 5-feet, 9-inches tall, and weighs about 190 pounds.

If you have any information about Brown, or if you know anything about the crash, call Crime Stoppers at 918-596-COPS.