On Monday morning at 2:40 a.m., a pickup truck driven by Louis Nieves, 23, who was DWI and had at least 10 beers at a downtown bar, crashed head-on into a gasoline tanker truck as he drove the wrong way on Interstate 30 near Beach Street.
The truck caused the tanker to explode. Its driver, Alejandro Raya, a kind and hard working family man from Fort Worth, was tragically killed. Mr. Raya, who had lived here for over 25 years, was married to a woman who works just down the street from my office at the Railhead BBQ restaurant and had three children, ages 21, 14, and 12. He was excited about his daughter's upcoming Quinceanera.
As the father of an almost 21 year old daughter, whom I love dearly, I can only imagine the grief that his family is suffering now and I am truly sorry for its loss.
The devastation caused by the crash and ensuing fire was immense.
The steel and concrete bridge over Sycamore Creek literally dissolved in the flames and the four lanes of I 30 will have to be reduced to two lanes for the next five months. What a hassle for people driving to work downtown or getting onto the Mixmaster.
The Texas Department of Transportation will have to pay at least $15 million to design and build the bridge and highway -- this in the middle of our $27 billiion budget deficit.
The State will have to pay over $40,000.00 a year to imprison Nieves for many, many years, not to mention the cost of his trial and court appointed attorney. He is currently jailed in Mansfield awaiting transfer to the Tarrant County Jail. His bond was set at $90,000.00, so it is safe to say he will be in jail until his trial.
And of course there is no way to put a value on the life of Mr. Raya or the suffering of his wife and children.
You will remember that just last week, at about the same time in the morning, a car pulled out in front of a tractor trailer and nearly caused it to plunge 50 feet from the I20/820 ramp down on to cars beneath.
This story makes me sick, and I demand to know the answers to these questions:
How long had Nieves been getting drunk at that bar?
Was he already drunk when he got there? Had he been drinking at another bar?
How did the bar on East 8th Street where Nieves was getting wasted not know that he was intoxicated?
Why did it continue to serve him in violation of the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission guidelines?
What time did he leave, since the wreck happened approximately 40 minutes after closing time, and the bar was no more than five minutes away.
Why didn't others at the bar try to stop him from driving?
How did Nieves not know that driving after drinking 10 beers would be dangerous?
Why didn't he have a designated driver or call some one to take him home?
Had Nieves ever done this before?
How many drunk customers had this bar allow to drive away before?
Why didn't Nieves get killed, not the other way around? Why does the drunk never seem to get hurt?
How did Nieves have so much money to spend on alcohol and does he have liability insurance? Insurance greater than the (just increased) limits of $30,000.00 per person?
Why do we allow this carnage to continue, night after night? What are we doing to prevent drunks from crashing into us?
As readers of my blog know, I HATE drunk drivers. I believe that Nieves should be given a long prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter and the bar should be sued under the "dram shop act" for civil damages, as punishment to him and as a deterrant to others who drink and drive and bar owners who serve them.
That is why I support MADD - Mothers Against Drunk Drivers - and am supporting its Walk Like MADD next weekend here in Trinity Park. And I will make a contribution on the way home to the fund for the family being collected at the Railhead, and encourage any one else to do so if they can.