Mark Blackstock, John Torres, Melissa Hoffman Injured in Crash on US-281 in Hamilton County, TX
Hamilton County, TX -- May 15, 2021, Mark Blackstock, Melissa Hoffman, and John Torres were injured in a collision on U.S Highway 281 in Hamilton County.
Authorities say the incident happened around 5:40 p.m. on US-281 near County Road 207. Preliminary investigation suggests Torres was driving a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck south on the highway on the Honey Creek bridge as Blackstock was driving a GMC Sierra pickup north in the same area. Reports and witness statements indicate Torres failed to maintain his lane and crossed over the center line into the northbound lane. Blackstock tried to swerve out of the way but the trucks collided at an angle, causing the Chevrolet to rotate away and overturn on its roof. The GMC then crashed into a guardrail before coming to rest.
Blackstock and Torres both suffered serious injuries in the collision. Hoffman reportedly received minor injuries.
EMTs advised investigators that Torres smelled strongly of alcohol. Police noted plans to subpoena his treatment records to determine if intoxication was a factor.
HPD continues to investigate the incident. No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Mark Blackstock, John Torres, Melissa Hoffman Accident on US-281
I've handled many cases involving alleged drunk drivers over the years. In that time I've realized that many people hurt in those crashes don't know about certain areas of the law that could help them a great deal as they struggle to recover from such an ordeal. Texas is one of several states with dram shop laws designed to hold bars, restaurants, and other alcohol vendors liable if they sell or serve drinks to people who are already drunk.
A licensed alcohol vendor has a duty to protect public safety by ceasing or refusing sales or service of alcohol to people who are obviously intoxicated. If you've ever seen someone get blackout drunk and the bar pours him another shot anyway, you may have witnessed a dram shop violation.
If a service provider or store sells alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person, that business may then be legally responsible for any injuries that person goes on to inflict or receive. In the crash above, any place that over-served the alleged DWI driver may now be responsible for helping him and the other injured victims get back on their feet.
Not every DWI crash also involves a dram shop claim. Given that police apparently found beers and a cooler near the suspect's truck, it's possible the driver was drinking as he traveled. Unless he purchased another pack for the road after already going past his limits, then it's unlikely a business could be implicated in that. However, he might still have been at a bar before driving and the cans are unrelated--it's really anyone's guess until a more careful investigation is conducted. The matter bears further scrutiny any time alcohol and injuries are apparently connected, if only to ensure that the injured victims are provided every available recourse to get the help they need and deserve.