ARCHER COUNTY (KFDX/KJTL) — The Texas Department of Public Safety has released the arrest affidavit on a murder charge filed against the man driving a pickup in Archer City that crashed last month, killing his 6-year-old nephew.

30-year-old Tyler Steel, well known to many as a gifted local musician, was arrested Monday, August 21, 2023, by DPS officers on one charge of murder and two charges of child endangerment. His bonds totaled $300,000, and he was no longer listed on the jail roster this morning.

The probable cause affidavits stated his blood alcohol content was 0.197, more than twice the legal limit.

The affidavits also stated he has been charged with murder, and not a lesser offense such as intoxicated manslaughter or another form of homicide, due to the fact he was committing other felonies (child endangerment) when his reckless and negligent conduct resulted in the death of a child.

The affidavits alleged Steel was driving recklessly with minors around Archer City late at night on July 9, first in the bed of his pickup and later in the cab. Reports also said he was speeding, up to 90 mph on a gravel road, then slamming on the brakes, apparently to entertain or excite the children or himself.

The DPS investigation stated Steel was driving south on South Rose too fast to stop at a stop sign at the intersection with East South Street, went into a ditch, went airborne into a field, rotated after hitting the ground and went airborne again and then violently rolled on the passenger side and came to rest on the truck’s wheels.

The DPS said Steel’s 6-year-old nephew was not restrained and was ejected.

He was flown from United Regional Health Care System hospital to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth and died two days later from a head injury.

The affidavit does not detail any injuries, if any, the other two children, both age 12, may have suffered but stated they also were taken to the emergency room.

According to the affidavit, a DPS investigator who interviewed Steel said Steel agreed to a voluntary blood draw at the hospital, saying “Yes sir, 100%” and said he took full responsibility for whatever happened.

When asked how the accident happened, the affidavit detailed a rambling account of the night’s events and Steel’s past struggles with alcohol.

Steel’s account of that night, according to the DPS affidavit:
They went to a birthday party for his youngest nephew that night, and earlier he had one Mike’s Hard Lemonade around 3 p.m. and a second one around 6 p.m. (about three and 1/2 hours before the wreck.) He said he and the boys went for a drive around 9 p.m.

According to Steel, at first, the boys were in the bed of the truck and later he made them get in the cab, and one was in his lap. He also said all were buckled in because he “simply told them to buckle up.” He said he never felt drunk, and if so, he would not have been driving them around.
Steel said as he drove around, he would pump the brakes at stop signs to make the kids’ heads “move with the stop.”

Analysis of an under-dash control monitor in the truck showed the top speed around the time of the crash was 90.1 mph.

He said before the crash, one of the boys asked to go home because it was not fun. Steel’s rambling account indicated he was lost or confused as to how to get to the house to drop off one boy.

He said one of the boys asked him to do it one more time and he agreed, and as he went down the gravel road he knew he wouldn’t be able to stop and he panicked. He said when he knew they were crashing he turned around to try to brace the kids, and that’s all he remembered about the crash.

After completing the lengthy investigation, the DPS turned the case over to 97th District Attorney Casey Hall.