We were all horrified to learn about the tragic multi-vehicle crash this past Saturday night in south Fort Worth that took the lives of three people who were assisting the driver of a disabled SUV. And Breanna Mitchell, its driver, was also killed. In addition, nine people ranging in age from 12 to 19 were injured. Two are still in critical condition.
Now there’s more to this terrible story.
Although the police have not yet issued their final report, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Ethan Couch, who was only 16 — and who was transporting seven other high school boys — was speeding on a narrow, unlit road in a pick up truck when he crashed into the SUV. Another truck driven by Brian Jennings, the youth pastor at Alsbury Baptist Church in Burleson, that had stopped beside the road to help and a Volkswagen driven by another teen coming the other direction was then hit. Of course Couch lived. But Jennings, Hollie and Shelby Boyles, a mother and daughter who lived in a house across the street who had also come out to help almost at midnight, and Mitchell, a chef at the downtown City Club, were tragically killed.
Alcohol is believed to be the cause of the collision.The blood alcohol content of young Couch has not been released. Intoxication manslaughter charges will be immediately filed if Couch’s BAC was .08% or higher. I have previously written here that these limits need to be lowered. And the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is investigating to see who (if anyone) provided alcohol to the underage driver; a bar, restaurant, or liquor store could be liable pursuant to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Section 2.02.
The criminal penalties for driving while intoxicated and causing the death of or serious injury to another person are serious.
(A) Intoxication Manslaughter -Texas Penal Code Section 49.08 – A person commits an offense if the person operates a motor vehicle in a public place . . . and is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.
An offense under this section is a felony of the second degree (imprisonment from two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.00).
(B) Intoxication Assault – Texas Penal Code Section 49.07 – A person commits an offense if the person, by accident or mistake while …operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another.
An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree (imprisonment from two to 10 years and a fine up to $10,000.00).
In addition, the surviving family members can also file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek to hold a person accountable for his actions. A personal injury attorney who understands the dynamics of motor vehicle accidents will be able to help victims reach a fair and just settlement.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the injured and the families of the victims of this senseless crash. Stories like this make me angry. I call on the police to more vigorously enforce our DWI laws to prevent the non-stop carnage on our Dallas Fort Worth streets and highways.