A bunch of tools shut down the Gulf Freeway Sunday for a marriage proposal, and Houston media so far are treating this dangerous, self-aggrandizing stunt as a cute love story. We'd like to correct that.
"There were about 8 cars with me and we just lined up — 4 and 4 — and we just stopped," Valladares told KTRK. He said Wycoff was completely surprised, explaining that "I told my girl we were going to go to a white and black party. She was getting ready so I told her to go get her nails done too." (You totally can't have your girl's nails looking bad when you propose).
According to the Chron, traffic was stopped for "about 35 seconds," while Valladares — a "hopeless romantic" — got down on bended knee.
"I never really thought about causing an accident," Valladares told the paper. "I thought about my girlfriend."
Silly us — we had assumed the dude was only thinking about himself.
KTRK cranked up the corniness by reporting, "They're planning their wedding for March. For now, it's a match made in Houston, right in the middle of I-45."
No, it's not. It's a match made in Douchetopia, orchestrated by Satan, with an audience of unwitting drivers whose lives came to a grinding halt after smashing into this wall of malignant narcissism.
The Chron jumped on the bullshit-wagon, declaring that "the culprit in the parking lot created on one of the busiest highways in Houston wasn't vehicle-related. It was love."
No, it wasn't. It was outrageous pomposity perpetrated by people who have no regard for the safety of others.
Now, here's the kicker: Harris County District Clerk records show that Valladares got divorced in June, after a two-year marriage. The records do not indicate how he proposed.
Valladares told us that the couple separated eight months after they got married in August 2013. He then passed the phone to a woman who did not identify herself, but told us that she did not give us "permission" to write about the divorce.
When we asked if Valladares got "permission" to shut down the Gulf Freeway on Sunday, she hung up.
Update, 4:21 p.m.: KTRK is reporting that the Harris County District Attorney's Office is charging the couple with "obstruction of highway, a class b misdemeanor." (That comes with a maximum of six months in jail or a $2,000 fine, according to the story).
Update, December 17: Valladares turned himself in and posted a $500 bond for a charge of obstruction of a roadway, a misdemeanor, the Chron is reporting. His attorney, Mark Thering, told the paper that "Mr. Valladares' intentions were purely romantic. The spot where he proposed had significant meaning to his fiancee. This was not done to grab personal attention, but done merely as a romantic gesture. It is unfortunate that criminal charges were filed."
This is what's known in legalese as the Chutzpah Defense.
Thering also told the Chron, "We are prepared to address the criminal charges in court. Both Mr. Valladares and his fiancee wish they can put this behind them and look forward to enjoying their engagement."
But what really blew our mind was the revelation that an off-duty sergeant with the Houston Police Department actually witnessed the proposal, and drove by without doing anything — even after Valladares allegedly flipped him off. (In the video shot by someone in Valladares' entourage, Kessler can be seen driving a blue Toyota Tacoma on the shoulder).
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Sergeant B.K. Kessler's account is included in another officer's affidavit, attached to the complaint. Kessler was driving on the freeway "when cars in front of him suddenly started putting their emergency flashers on and came to a stop."
"Ater the cars stopped, Sgt. Kesler stated that people started getting out of their cars and running past the stopped cars and using cell phones to record whatever was happening. Sgt. Kessler stated that his view was obstructed by taller vehicles and he believed that this could possible be a 'road rage' type of incident, so he moved his vehicle to the left and drove on the shoulder to go past the cars and people stopped on the freeway.
Once past the other vehicles, Sgt. Kessler saw that [Valladares] was down on a knee and then stood up, and [Valladares] and [his fiancee] began hugging. Sgt. Kessler continued driving, and as he was passing [Valladares], Sgt. Kessler used his horn to make sure that [he] did not move back into the lane he was driving in, and [Valladares] did not move back into the lane he was driving in, and [he] acknowledged Sgt. Kessler by waving his middle finger at the Sgt."
Wow. What a class act.