• March 28, 2022

Marrie Johnstone Killed, Julie Mercer Injured in Car Accident on FM 32 near New Braunfels, TX

Comal County, TX -- March 25, 2022, Marrie Johnstone was killed and Julie Mercer was injured in a crash on Ranch to Market Road 32 just outside New Braunfels.

Authorities say the incident happened around 5:55 p.m. on the 4800 block of RM 32 near Serenity Road and Devil's Backbone. Preliminary investigation suggests Johnstone was driving a Ford Mustang northeast on the roadway as Mercer was driving a Lincoln MKX SUV southwest in the same area. For reasons not yet known Johnstone veered off the road to the right, entering the crass shoulder. She swerved back into the road but side-skidded into the southwest-bound lane. The Lincoln then crashed into the passenger side of the Mustang.

Johnstone, 55, was ejected from her vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators noted her seat belt appeared to have broken in the crash.

Mercer, 32, was extricated from her car and then airlifted to a hospital in Kyle.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Marrie Johnstone, Julie Mercer Accident on FM 32 near New Braunfels

It seems as though police don't have a full handle on what happened here yet. I'm not saying they should necessarily have all the dots connected so soon after this tragic incident, but I hope they're hard at work getting answers for the victim's loved ones. How could this terrible incident have happened?

It's best to ensure that's answered only with objective facts and no minds are made up before the necessary evidence is found. Investigators still need to look into a lot of factors as they figure out what happened: possible driver mistakes like distraction or speeding, perhaps, but also problems or defects in the vehicles themselves, ambient conditions like weather and roadway conditions, visibility and sightlines, any other vehicles present in the area, the possibility of impairment (reports mention tests underway for it), and many other elements that could have influenced or even caused the wreck. Any one or combinations of them could have had significant impact on the crash and the victims' injuries.

Marrie Johnstone Killed, Julie Mercer Injured in Car Accident on FM 32 near New Braunfels, TX

Speaking of identifying all the contributing factors, it stands out in early reports that the ejected person's seat belt seems to have broken. That's a troubling detail to say the least, as it's certainly unusual for a belt to break at precisely the point when it's most needed. Was the impact so forceful that the belt assembly couldn't take it? Did the belt's pretensioners fire appropriately during the impact, or was there slack in it? Did its buckle close completely? Was it defective somehow? Finding the evidence to clarify how it broke could be critical when trying to seek the truth of the crash, as well as potentially seeking accountability from the vehicle's manufacturer. If the belt was defective somehow, that's vital to learn so that the company can issue a recall notice and fix the problem in other cars. Additionally, if its faulty product was part of the reason for the victim's fatal injuries the company may need to make what amends it can to her loved ones.

If the authorities alone handle this and they aren't equipped to get clear answers, then a serious issue may fly under the radar until someone else gets hurt. That's why I advocate for independent accident reconstruction. At worst police have their story straight from the beginning and closer investigation just confirms it. However, in many cases independent experts catch details that authorities overlooked for one reason or another. Whoever does the looking, though, it's important that they find all the available facts. The people affected by this accident deserve to know the whole truth of it.


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