• September 21, 2021

Randall Gentry Killed in Pickup Truck Crash on FM 751 in Hunt County, TX

UPDATE (January 27, 2022): Investigative reports identified the driver killed in this accident as 52-year-old Randall Gentry.

Hunt County, TX -- September 18, 2021, one person was killed after one pickup truck hit another then fell off a bridge on Farm to Market Road 751 in Hunt County.

Authorities say the incident happened shortly before 9:40 a.m. along FM 751 over Lake Tawakoni, roughly 4.5 miles southeast of Quinlan. Preliminary investigation suggests a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck and a GMC Sierra pickup were both headed north on the roadway when the Chevy lost a box of food onto the roadway. The driver pulled onto the shoulder to retrieve the box; moments later, the GMC pickup hit the box, then sideswiped the Chevy. It continued out of control and crashed through the nearby guardrail, falling into the lake below.

The GMC driver was pronounced dead at the scene. The Chevy driver was unhurt.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Randall Gentry Accident on FM 751 in Hunt County

UPDATE (January 27, 2022): Later reports about this incident say the victim had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .316, almost four times the legal limit, at the time of the accident.

To be very clear, I relay that information with no judgment or to lead into a finger-wagging sermon about alcohol. However, knowing that the victim was impaired at the time of the accident may mean there's another facet of the collision that needs attention: The source of the victim's alcohol. But why is that important?

Not everyone is aware that alcohol-serving venues (bars, nightclubs, restaurants, liquor stores, gas stations) are prohibited by dram shop law from selling or serving drinks to a customer who is obviously intoxicated. The reason I say that may not be public knowledge is many people have absolutely seen a business do that very thing and yet have never seen a single consequence for that recklessness. Dram shop violations are seldom chased down by law enforcement, so people rarely read about them in the news.

In situations where an alcohol vendor's reckless over-service may have contributed to someone's injuries or death, that business may then be liable for the damage done. However, it's important to note that the crash in Hunt County appears to have been caused by multiple factors and it occurred in the early morning. It is conceivable that because it happened on a Saturday that the victim's impairment was part of a very long Friday night at a bar or club, but that's only one possibility. In addition, reports are clear that the other vehicle's poorly-secured cargo was also partly responsible for what happened. Ultimately this like most accidents really can't be laid at the feet of a single contributing element, and it would require more investigation than police likely plan to invest to be sure exactly who and what should be held responsible.

Randall Gentry Killed in Pickup Truck Crash on FM 751 in Hunt County, TX

ORIGINAL: Based on the way reports are worded, I would imagine some folks will blame the victim for this crash and then move on. The story says he ran off the road, so what more could there be to say?

As it happens, it's important to investigate any crash thoroughly--particularly if there's any confusion about its cause. I have doubt the victim's family would appreciate the dismissive conclusion that he did something wrong despite there being no proof. Instead of just saying he was distracted or speeding, investigators must consider all the possible explanations and look for evidence. What if the GMC pickup hit a slick spot in the road, or some loose debris that caused it to lose traction? Could the driver have swerved to avoid something or someone else in the road, causing him to lose control? Did the pickup have a mechanical issue that sent it off-course?

That may seem a little arbitrary, but vehicular failures are more common than you may think. Consider General Motors' massive recall a few years ago: A defective ignition switch in millions of their vehicles led to over a hundred fatal wrecks due to events completely beyond drivers' control.

Despite the serious danger that defective part posed, it took years of independent investigations to connect the dots and actually determine what was responsible for those deaths and countless other injuries. Why? Because those in charge of the individual investigations didn't have the time or forensic knowledge to look for something as specific as a defective part. They didn't properly consider all the possibilities and many drivers were blamed for speeding or texting even though their crashes were actually out of their hands.

The possibility of such overlooked details is why it's so important to be thorough after these tragic incidents. The goal should always be to conduct a proper investigation into all possible factors--common or not--and get real answers for those affected, and this crash is no exception. In the meantime it's best to focus efforts on what can be done for the victim's family in this difficult time.

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