• August 10, 2021

UPDATE: Phillip and Betty Richardson Killed in Truck Accident on State Hwy 50 in Hunt County, TX

UPDATE (August 13, 2021): Reports have identified the two people killed in this collision as married couple Phillip and Betty Richardson.

Unconfirmed reports suggest wrong-way driver Hunter Dawson may have been drinking at a bar in Terrell before the accident.

Hunt County, TX -- August 7, 2021, a semi-truck's driver and passenger were killed in a crash while avoiding a wrong-way vehicle on State Highway 50 in Hunt County.

Authorities say the incident happened before 4:45 a.m. Saturday near the intersection of Route 50 and County Road 4805, about five miles south of Ladonia. Preliminary investigation suggests that a commercial semi-truck was headed south on the highway as a Dodge Ram driven by 18-year-old Hunter Dawson was stopped facing north in the southbound lane, partially stopped across the center dividing line of the road. Reports indicate the commercial truck driver swerved to avoid crashing into the pickup and drove onto the unimproved shoulder, where the truck overturned and rolled several times.

The truck driver and a passenger in the semi were pronounced dead at the scene. Dawson was uninjured in the non-contact crash.

Police arriving at the scene found Dawson asleep in his pickup in the southbound lane. He was arrested on two counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of unlawfully carrying a weapon.

No further information is available at this time.

Commentary on Fatal Truck Accident on TX-50 in Hunt County

Impairment from both drugs and alcohol generally falls under the term "intoxication" in the eyes of criminal law. However, when intoxication by alcohol is the root cause of a crash (far more common than from drugs) then dram shop law says the establishment that provided it may also be considered responsible for a victim's damages.

If a business over-serves someone and that person's intoxication causes a serious accident, the establishment may then be held accountable for the part it played in the crash. Dram shop law is the method by which this is accomplished, but it also plays another important role: Giving victims and their families the right to confront those businesses and seek much-needed help with their recovery.

Phillip and Betty Richardson Killed in Truck Accident on State Hwy 50 in Hunt County, TX

I should follow all that by noting that only "intoxication" and not specifically alcohol was mentioned in reports. As I said, that could mean drugs instead, and even if the intoxicant was alcohol that doesn't mean a dram violation occurred. It's simply an important detail to fully understand when seeking ways to help victims and their families after impairment-related crashes.

Dram shop is instrumental in helping many injured DWI wreck victims and their families back onto their feet, and yet despite its value authorities often overlook the possibility of dram violations. When those bars' transgressions slip through the cracks, not only do they see no need to change their ways but injured victims are robbed of vital resources in a difficult time. That's why it's often best for them to enlist the help of other investigators and allies that will help them hold the bad bar, restaurant, club, or store properly accountable. Will that be necessary in this accident as well?

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