• April 26, 2022

Marissa July-McCuin Killed in Hit-and-Run on TX-64 near Tyler, TX

UPDATE (August 31, 2022): Recent reports say that on July 21 a Smith County grand jury indicted Justin Pierce on charges of intoxication manslaughter with a vehicle and causing an accident involving death.

Smith County, TX -- April 24, 2022, 18-year-old Marissa July-McCuin was struck and killed by a hit-and-run vehicle on State Highway 64 west of Tyler.

Authorities say the incident happened around 1:30 a.m. on westbound TX-64 near Patton Lane. Preliminary investigation suggests July-McCuin was trying to cross the highway on foot when she was hit by a westbound Volkswagen Tiguan driven by 29-year-old Justin Pierce. Reports say Pierce then fled the scene without stopping to render aid, but he was found a short time later and arrested on preliminary charges of intoxication manslaughter with a vehicle and accident involving death.

July-McCuin suffered critical injuries in the collision. She was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead a short time later. Neither of the Volkswagen's occupants were injured.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Marissa July-McCuin Hit-and-Run in Tyler

A common mistake I see in these kinds of situations is thinking that what we see here is more or less all there is to know. Even with just the few published details some may feel the key points were hit: Someone fatally injured the victim, fled, was caught, and now faces criminal charges. It's certainly important they face consequences, and now what else is there to say?

Well, one detail that too often goes overlooked after a drunk driver hurts someone in Texas is where his alcohol came from. Depending on where the driver drank before the accident, the victim's family may have the right to hold the business that sold him alcohol accountable for the damage he did.

Marissa July-McCuin Killed in Hit-and-Run on TX-64 near Tyler, TX

Texas dram shop law prohibits licensed alcohol vendors (bars, restaurants, liquor and convenience stores, etc) from selling or serving alcohol to obviously intoxicated customers. If they do so illegally and their customers cause injuries while under the influence, the business that provided too much to drink may be considered liable for the harm done.

It's not clear whether a dram shop violation happened here, but I also can't tell if the authorities even looked into it. Law enforcement doesn't spend much time tracking down negligent over-service, content instead to catch and punish its byproducts. That's why dram shop matters are most often dealt with by independent investigators. Their careful analysis could be a step toward getting the victim's family the help they need and deserve. Any business that had a hand in their terrible loss should be held accountable and do what it can to make things right.

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