James Hart Killed in Single-Vehicle Accident on US-70 in Hale County, TX
Hale County, TX -- April 13, 2022, 37-year-old James Hart died in a single-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 70 in Hale County.
Authorities say the incident happened shortly before 12:30 a.m. on US-70, just west of Plainview. Preliminary reports suggest Hart was traveling on the highway when he lost control for unknown reasons and left the roadway. He over-corrected back toward the road and his vehicle overturned.
Hart suffered fatal injuries in the crash, which remains under investigation.
No further information is available at this time.
Commentary on James Hart Accident on US-70 in Hale County
UPDATE (June 23, 2022): Later reports say the victim had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .258 at the time of the crash. I say that with no judgment, and it may still not be the sole contributing factor of his accident, but if he was dramatically over the legal limit for intoxication that may mean further investigation is needed.
Depending on certain factors, Texas alcohol vendors may be legally responsible for the injuries their over-served customers cause or suffer while impaired. Under dram shop law alcohol vendors like bars and restaurants are prohibited from selling or serving drinks to obviously intoxicated customers. It's unclear whether a bar had anything to do with the Hale County victim's impairment, but that should be carefully investigated in case it should answer for the damage its reckless over-service caused.
Unfortunately dram violations don't get much attention from police, so if a bar is suspected of over-service then the people affected by that often seek help from independent investigators. Those professionals know what proof to look for and how to get it, and armed with what they find many folks affected by a bar's negligent over-service have held it accountable for what followed.
ORIGINAL: With an early morning wreck like this, folks may be quick to jump to conclusions. Even police will probably start their investigation by looking for signs of the most common causes like driver distraction or possibly impairment. I'm not accusing the victim of anything or trying to sully his name, but those two factors combined make up the vast majority of wrecks that happen in manners like the one above. Each is important to consider--particularly alcohol's involvement, since many wrecks like this involve people who were illegally over-served by a bar. When that happens those bars may be liable for the damage done under dram shop law.
However, prudent investigators won't settle for only looking at common factors. They'll also consider more unusual possibilities, like a manufacturing defect. Certainly those aren't all that common, but they require a lot of experience and state-of-the-art tools to properly investigate. Defects have caused fatal wrecks before, and only through careful examination did those issues come to light. The infamous GM ignition switch defect, for example, reportedly killed over a hundred people before it was discovered to be a potential problem in millions of vehicles. The public didn't know about the defect for years, though, so how many people read those initial reports and just assumed the victims got themselves killed when they had no control over the situation?
Maybe nothing so complex happened here, but it's best to let the evidence speak for itself. Whether this all was due to something common or not, someone lost his life here and his loved ones deserve to know they have the full story.