• December 21, 2021

Andrew Griffin, One Other Killed by Wrong-Way Driver on North Fwy in Houston, TX

Houston, TX -- December 19, 2021, Andrew Griffin and another person were killed in a crash with a wrong-way driver on the North Freeway in Houston.

Authorities say the incident happened around 12:30 a.m. on the 1400 block of the Freeway (Interstate 45) near the White Oak exit. Preliminary investigation suggests 26-year-old Sarah Gay was driving a Dodge Charger north in the southbound lanes of the freeway, the wrong direction, when she crashed into a Kia Rio and a Kia Soul.

Griffin and another occupant of the Rio were pronounced dead at the scene. Gay and the Kia Soul's driver were transported to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Investigators say Gay showed signs of impairment at the scene. Reports indicate she was charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Andrew Griffin Accident on North Fwy in Houston

Reports suggest the suspect in this crash faces some very serious charges, but I don't write this blog to criticize or judge drivers police suspect of intoxication. Alleged crimes and their consequences are a matter for the courts and the suspect will have her day in one.

Instead, I consider it more important on this blog to focus on what can be done for those harmed by the crash, whether they're directly-injured victims or the grieving families of those whose lives were taken too soon. Given that police think intoxication played a part, it's possible that the people affected by this accident should know about Texas dram shop law.

Andrew Griffin, One Other Killed by Wrong-Way Driver on North Fwy in Houston, TX

Essentially dram shop law says that a licensed alcohol provider who over-serves an obviously intoxicated person may be liable for damages resulting from that intoxication. That means bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and other establishments can be held accountable when they keep pouring drinks for customers who then go on to cause accidents like this one. Not only does this help victims and families get back on their feet after such harmful experiences, it's also a way to punish negligent alcohol providers and keep them from putting communities in danger.

People are sometimes confused by the thought that a business should be held accountable for how much their customer drinks, but it's hard to dispute the risks created by businesses that pour nonstop for a customer as long as their money holds out, regardless of how drunk they may get. I've seen the devastating effects of that recklessness--countless wrecks like the one in Houston, traumatically injured or killed pedestrians, and even a case or two where a customer was served so much they died of alcohol poisoning shortly after leaving the bar. That kind of dramatic over-service clearly puts both the intoxicated customers and the general public at great risk, and it shouldn't go unanswered.

Despite the utility and importance of dram shop law, police rarely look into those violations. Their priorities align more closely with punishing wrongdoers than with helping victims. That's why it's often necessary to have independent investigators look into these accidents as soon as possible. For the sake of those affected by this crash, the sooner investigators look into everything that led to it the sooner there can be some useful answers. Any further steps would largely depend on what those answers turn out to be.

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