Nicholas Tchirkow Killed by Alleged DWI Driver on Newfield Ln in Austin, TX
UPDATE (January 25, 2022): Later reports identify the victim of this accident as 33-year-old Nicholas Tchirkow.
Austin, TX -- September 18, 2021, a person on a powered scooter was struck and killed by an allegedly-intoxicated driver on Newfield Lane in North Austin.
Authorities say the incident happened around 2:50 a.m. on the 1400 block of Newfield Lane. Preliminary investigation suggests driver Lee Ann Nash was in a Chevrolet Traverse SUV on the MoPac Expressway when she exited toward Newfield and turned onto it. She traveled north on the roadway as the victim was traveling south on the electric scooter in the same lane, against traffic. The SUV and the scooter collided in the roadway. The victim hit the car's windshield and partially broke through before being thrown off onto a nearby grassy area.
The scooter's rider was pronounced dead at the scene. No other injuries were reported. Nash was arrested at the scene for DWI.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Nicholas Tchirkow Scooter Accident on Newfield Ln in Austin
UPDATE (January 28, 2022): Later reports about this accident added that victim Nicholas Tchirkow had a BAC of .20 at the time of the accident.
I don't say that with any judgment. That level of impairment might help explain why the victim was traveling against traffic at the time, and unfortunately impaired scooter riders aren't uncommon in Austin. The common feeling is that it's better to hop aboard a ride-share scooter while under the influence than it is to get behind the wheel of a full-size vehicle. That may sound reasonable, but a scooter is still a vehicle. It may be harder to deal serious damage on one, but unfortunately the chances of receiving such damage are more likely increased. Even so, Austin's famous entertainment and night-life districts are a buzzing hive of these scooters--particularly on weekends like the one when this terrible accident occurred.
Much of what I previously wrote about dram shop law and its applications to a crash like this still apply now that both parties were apparently under the influence. If a bar over-served the victim and then he hopped aboard a scooter to travel somewhere else, that business may now be liable for his fatal injuries. To that end, it's important to find out where he was and what he did there prior to his fateful ride.
Talking about this may provoke some scornful eye-rolls as people assume a lawyer's just trying to find someone to sue, but consider the bigger point: Drunk drivers receive serious penalties for their choices, but people seldom lend a single thought to the businesses that happily pour all those drinks for them. Over-service like that is flatly illegal and its consequences can be dire as we see on Newfield Lane, but many such businesses escape any consequences and thus never change their ways.
That's why dram shop claims are so important: They holds bars and clubs accountable while also providing the victims of their recklessness a way to seek much-needed assistance with recovery. Negligent over-service must be stopped for public safety, and if victims and families can get help in the process that's even better.
ORIGINAL: If reports have their facts in order this seems like a very serious matter with potential legal repercussions. However, I'm not writing this to guess or gossip about the arrested driver's potential fate. She'll have her day in court to answer for what happened. Instead, I want to address another consideration in alcohol-related crashes that too often gets overlooked: Where the alcohol came from. But why is that important?
People often aren't aware that Texas dram shop law exists to properly deal with bars and other alcohol vendors that knowingly over-serve their customers. In a nutshell, dram shop law says that a licensed alcohol vendor that sells or serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person may be liable for damages resulting from that intoxication. In Austin, that would mean if the suspect was too intoxicated to drive properly than any business that helped her get that way may now be legally responsible for the scooter rider's fatal injuries. That means the business would have a duty to help the rider's loved ones recover as best they can from their loss.
Not only is dram shop law a vital tool for making the community safer by holding negligent alcohol providers accountable, it's a way to get people the help they need which simple criminal charges don't really offer. That's why it's important to address possible dram shop violations after crashes like this. While the authorities focus on the drivers involved, someone needs to
look beyond them at any extenuating factors to be sure all the right parties are held accountable. Are those steps being taken here?