Ethan Couch’s blood-alcohol limit was a insanely high 0.24 — three times the legal limit –
as he recklessly drove down a dark narrow road at 70 mph in a huge Ford F35 and set off a chain wreck that left four people dead. One of his passengers is still in a coma. Eleven others were injured. What a nightmare.
Couch and others had stolen two cases of beer from the Burleson Walmart an hour before the crash. And they had been drinking at Couch’s house before that according to news reports.
This story angers me. I have blogged about it here and here. I’ve had to represent far too many people hurt by intoxicated or stoned drivers over the last 33 years and seen the devastation they cause. I support Mothers Against Drunk Driving and it is an honor to be one of their few approved attorneys in Tarrant County. I hate drunk drivers and go after them with a vengeance.
OK, so the teenager who caused this catastrophe will hopefully be punished and incarcerated, but how does that achieve justice? Will the families of the deceased be compensated (not that there is any amount of money that can bring back their loved ones)? How will the injured people be reimbursed for their damages? How much insurance coverage is available and how will it be allocated between the decedents’ families and the injured persons? Is the young man an excluded or unlisted driver on the insurance policy?
Other questions remain. Did the driver’s parents know that their son was an incompetent driver when they gave him the keys to the truck or stop him from driving? He was only 16 years old. Had he been in other wrecks or driven while he was intoxicated before? On February 19th, Lakeside police cited Couch for speeding and possessing beer and vodka; he was scheduled to attend an alcohol awareness class a few days after the fatal wreck.
Are the parents liable for negligently entrusting the truck to him and if so, what insurance coverage and assets do they have to pay the victims?
Who bought Couch the alcohol at the party in his house (if it wasn’t the beer he stole)? Did an adult fail to prevent Couch from leaving if he was intoxicated? Under Texas law, a host of a party may he held responsible for serving alcohol to those under 18. What security did WalMart employ to prevent people from stealing beer?
Sheriff Anderson said yesterday that “(Couch) was extremely intoxicated, obviously, It is a something that was completely preventable.” OK, but who is going to prevent the next catastrophe like this one from happening?
This crash is a tragedy. A woman’s car broke down and three Good Samaritans were killed for their kindness, along with the stranded driver. Many others were injured. All of those who are responsible should be held responsible and made to pay restitution to the 16 people and their families. My thoughts and prayers are with them.