Jeffrey Fowler Injured in ATV Accident on FM 559 in Bowie County, TX
Bowie County, TX -- March 24, 2021, 55-year-old Jeffrey Thomas Fowler was seriously injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident on Farm to Market Road 559 in Bowie County.
Authorities say the incident happened around 7:05 p.m. at the intersection of FM 559 and Rochelle Lane. Preliminary investigation suggests Fowler was driving a Can-Am Outlander 4-wheeler east on Rochelle as a Toyota RAV4 SUV was headed south on FM 559. Fowler reportedly disregarded the stop sign at the "T" intersection and entered the path of the Toyota, which swerved to avoid a collision. Fowler attempted to do the same but was traveling too fast and the ATV overturned and rolled, hitting the Toyota with its top and Fowler's body.
Fowler landed on the roadway and the ATV spun a short distance away before coming to a stop. The Toyota came to rest upright in the southbound lane.
Fowler suffered serious injuries in the crash and was transported to an area hospital. The Toyota's driver, later identified as 57-year-old Megan Schroeder, was unhurt. A passenger in the Toyota received possible injuries.
First responders at the scene found scattered alcoholic beverages that reportedly came out of large ice chest Fowler was carrying. They also reported detecting the odor of alcohol on his breath.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Jeffrey Fowler Accident on FM 559 Bowie County
It looks from reports like police believe the ATV operator may have been drinking before he crashed. Many of the ATV accidents I've seen seem to happen similarly, but despite their suspicions police didn't charge him with DWI. They did however take blood samples for further testing to determine how much of a factor alcohol may have been.
If those tests determine he was past the legal limit when he crashed, it's important to find out where the drinks in his cooler came from. The answer to that might simply be "home," but it's not impossible that he bought alcohol from an area business. But why does it matter either way?
People aren't always aware that Texas dram shop law holds licensed alcohol vendors responsible when they serve customers who are obviously intoxicated. Bars, restaurants, liquor and convenience stores, and other providers may be considered liable for injuries their customers cause or suffer after being illegally over-served.
Many DWI cases don't meet the requirements for dram shop claims, yet for each of those there's another where a business doesn't face justice because people don't realize it's possible to hold them accountable. That's why it's always important to find out where the victim was drinking (if he was drinking) before he got hurt. Statistically speaking, tipsy ATV joyrides seem to rarely involve negligent over-service from an alcohol provider unless the operator stops to pick up a few more beers while roaming about, but the possibility always merits further investigation when alcohol and injury go hand-in-hand.
Dram shop law is an important but often-overlooked area of the law. Drunk drivers face serious consequences, so it seems only fitting that the negligent vendors that help them get that way also face the music for breaking the law.