Former Mansion Sommelier Convicted of Reckless Manslaughter

Cole Avenue in front Komali and Salum parking lot. (from Google Maps)

Tim Parks, a former sommelier at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, was convicted last week of reckless manslaughter for the death of Roy Salinas. On Wednesday, September 5, jurors deliberated for two hours before they decided to sentence Parks to eight years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Parks is a longtime friend of Khanh Dao, the ex-owner of Pho Colonial, where he once worked as a maitre d’ and wine taster. And though the DMN story written after the sentencing acts as a good reminder never to drink and drive, there’s also a part of this story that’s important to mention for the patrons of Komali and Salum: Be careful when you pull out of that parking lot. It’s one of the most dangerous areas for Dallas drivers.

There are plenty of one-way warning signs along the street, yet people still drive the wrong way along Cole Avenue. Salum’s chef, Al Haven, said, “It happens all the time,” and he’s surprised he hasn’t seen an accident even though he witnesses cars treating the avenue like a two-way street almost daily. Also, the Komali/Salum parking lot is tricky if you’re not being careful. Cole has three lanes, but the leftmost lane is for street parking, and it’s hard to see oncoming traffic when there are cars covering your line of sight on either side.

That area in front of Komali and Salum is difficult to navigate even when the sun is shining. Now imagine it’s 11 p.m. and you’ve already had a couple of drinks in your system. Then it becomes a nightmare.

Jump with me here. It’s a complicated story.

Roy Salinas (photo by Elliot Munoz)

Here’s the CliffsNotes version: On June 28, 2011, Parks, 56, was drinking at Pekers on Oak Lawn starting in the afternoon. Later in the day, he and Khanh Dao sat down to a dinner of spaghetti that Parks had cooked and drank bottled water, according to Dao. She fell asleep and Parks borrowed her champagne-colored Mercedes to pick up his friend Jeffrey Dickey at Komali where they had drinks. Parks was driving Dickey home around 11 p.m. when he pulled out of the Komali parking lot onto Cole Avenue, and instead of turning left because Cole is a one-way, he turned right instead. According to his testimony, Dickey said, “You can’t turn right here.” Parks responded, “Look what I can do,” and failed to yield the right of way, colliding with Oak Cliff resident Roy Salinas, 35, as he was riding his vintage scooter after a showing of Larry Crowne.

Jurors at the trial decided Tim Parks committed reckless manslaughter due to the fact that he wasn’t supposed to drive in the first place. He hasn’t had a driver’s license since 1995 because of a DWI incident, and when police found Parks at the scene, he had a blood alcohol level of 0.22 and failed to recite the alphabet for a standard field sobriety test.

On Wednesday, September 5, jurors deliberated for two hours before they decided to sentence Parks with eight years in prison and $5,000 in fines.

Roy Salinas’ friends and family – many of them wearing Roy’s signature bow tie-look – breathed a collective sigh of relief when the verdict was read.

“I would say that for the most part, we’re glad that he’s not going to be in a position that he could impact another family the way he’s impacted ours, but it doesn’t really make a dent in how we feel about this and Roy,” says Salinas’ first cousin Elissa Garcia. “We’re trying to figure out how to live without him.”

As for Tim Parks, Dao says he keeps replaying the scene of the collision in his head. “He said that he feels bad for the family. It’s sad all around. Everyone loses. I’ve been in that parking lot so many times. Even pulling out of that parking lot, it’s dangerous. It could happen any day. At any moment. It could’ve happened to anybody. That particular parking lot at that particular restaurant… it could happen to you. You have to inch out.”