• February 03, 2022

Melissa Zapata, Eloy Luna Jr. Injured in Alleged Drunk Driving Accident in Hidalgo County, TX

Hidalgo County, TX -- December 3, 2021, Melissa Zapata and Eloy Luna Jr. were injured following an accident which authorities say involved a drunk driver.

Investigations indicated that the crash happened at around 2:10 a.m. along Old La Blanca Road at Mile 9 North Road.

Authorities said that 31-year-old Melissa Zapata was in a Ford F-150 traveling northbound on Old La Blanca Road. Ahead, police say that 28-year-old Eloy Luna Jr. was in a Saturn Outlook and reportedly failed to yield coming out of a bar parking lot. This resulted in a collision.

Due to the collision, Zapata had incapacitating injuries while Luna had non-incapacitating injuries. Police believe that Luna may have been under the influence of alcohol at the time and reported charges for intoxication assault.

Additional details are unavailable at this time.

Commentary on Melissa Zapata, Eloy Luna Jr. Alleged Drunk Driving Accident in Hidalgo County

To be clear up front, everything in these reports is unconfirmed, and I'm not here to throw blame around. It's simply that crashes like this are often more complex than people realize, and I try to help folks understand why. Put bluntly, any crash at 2:00 a.m. has a serious chance of involving alcohol. One where a car pulls out of a bar parking lot after closing time is a red flag too glaring to ignore. But that's not just a sign to investigate that driver's actions. It's possible that nearby bar also bears responsibility for what happened here.

Melissa Zapata, Eloy Luna Jr Alleged Drunk Driving Accident Hidalgo County, TX

That may sound odd, but it has to do with dram shop law. The law basically says that an alcohol provider who over-serves an obviously intoxicated person can be liable for damages resulting from that intoxication. In other words, if a bar serves someone who's clearly a danger to themselves and others because of their drunkenness, a bar serving them means they're contributing to that danger, so they can be held accountable for a resulting crash. Not only can this get people the help they need, it can also be a clear message for that bar to clean up its act.

I looked into the bar named in reports on the TABC public records. It appears they've been the subject of numerous investigations over years, including for over-serving customers. That doesn't necessarily mean those investigations found any violations, but it's at least a sign that investigating the establishment more thoroughly could reveal information the victims deserve to see.

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