• June 11, 2021

UPDATE: Monique Rodriguez Killed by Alleged DWI Driver at Bus Stop on Culebra Road in San Antonio, TX

UPDATE (June 14, 2021): Authorities have identified the victim of this incident as 29-year-old Monique Rodriguez. The driver who reportedly struck Rodriguez at the bus stop on Culebra was also identified as 18-year-old Melanie Mariah Gaiton.

San Antonio, TX -- June 10, 2021, a person waiting at a bus stop on Culebra Road was struck and killed by a suspected DWI driver in San Antonio.

Authorities say the incident happened just before 7:00 a.m. Thursday in the 800 block of Culebra near North Navidad. Preliminary investigation suggests a driver and her male passenger were headed east in a Chevrolet sedan when she attempted to overtake another vehicle by passing it in the center turn lane. While trying to execute the maneuver the car hit a concrete curb and drove up the sidewalk, where she hit the victim at the VIA bus stop. The car continued eastward a short distance before crashing into a chain-link fence. The driver and passenger then left the scene on foot but were apprehended a few blocks away.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver faces charges of intoxication manslaughter and failure to stop and render aid-death.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Fatal Auto-Pedestrian Accident on Culebra Road

UPDATE (June 14, 2021): Later reports indicate the suspect was underage in this crash. Police should still find out where their alcohol came from--both to find out if a business sold alcohol to an underage person and also to find out if they did so to excess when she was already intoxicated. Investigators could learn the drinking was done at a private residence, that a person 21 or older bought the drinks, or that a business wasn't involved at all that night, but the only was to know for sure is to take a careful look at what the suspect was up to prior to the accident. The victim's family deserves to know the whole truth and everyone responsible for their loss should be held accountable.

Monique Rodriguez Killed by Alleged DWI Driver at Bus Stop on Culebra Road in San Antonio, TX

ORIGINAL: If they're charging the driver with intoxication manslaughter police must strongly suspect alcohol was a factor in this crash. If they're proven right through appropriate tests, then the suspect may face serious criminal charges after her actions that night.

However, it's not my place to speculate about what her fate in the justice system might look like. Instead, I want to address a different factor about alcohol-related crashes that doesn't come up often enough. Texas takes them very seriously, to the point of looking beyond just the drivers themselves to whatever business might have supplied them with alcohol. The business's potential violations are handled under dram shop law.

Unfortunately, this area of the law isn't as well-known as it should be. In a nutshell, it prohibits licensed alcohol vendors (bars, restaurants, liquor and convenience stores, etc) from selling or serving more alcohol to obviously intoxicated customers. That reckless over-service creates dangerously drunk drivers and dram shop law punishes reckless businesses for ignoring their duty to public safety. Moreover, it grants DWI crash victims and their families the right to confront negligent bars in court and hold them responsible for the damage they helped cause.

Despite the importance and value of these laws, many people aren't aware they have those rights because police rarely chase down negligent vendors. They may alert the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for a follow-up if a specific bar or business is named by their suspect, but even the TABC doesn't really deal with a bar's duty to victims--only to the government. If a business is suspected of negligent over-service that led to a crash with injuries or even fatalities, the best way to find out for sure is to work with an independent investigator who knows what evidence to look for and how to get it.

Too many bars escape liability because people don't know that drunk drivers aren't the only ones who can be held accountable after a crash. Dram shop law seeks to punish--and ideally eradicate--bad bars' over-service to make the roads safer for everyone and to teach those businesses a lesson.

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