• May 13, 2022

Alexander Woods Killed; Becky Browning, Wayne Whitworth Injured in Smith County, TX Car Accident

Smith County, TX -- May 12, 2022, 31-year-old Alexander Woods was killed and two people were injured in a car accident on State Highway 64 in Smith County.

Reports say the incident happened Thursday afternoon on Highway 64 near County Road 1154. Preliminary investigation suggests Woods was driving a Toyota Tacoma pickup west on the highway as 57-year-old Becky Browning was driving a Chevy Silverado east nearby. Woods reportedly crossed left of center for unknown reasons; after entering oncoming traffic the Tacoma hit the Silverado head-on.

Woods was pronounced dead at the scene. Browning and her passenger, 56-year-old Wayne Whitworth, were taken to a Tyler hospital in serious condition.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Alexander Woods, Becky Browning Accident in Smith County

I've seen some commenters speculate about what caused this crash. Some suggested speeding was the culprit, while others said the driver might have been looking at his phone instead of the road when he crossed left of center. A few even suggested that drunk driving was involved.

To be clear, jumping to those conclusions (or any others) isn't a good idea. Investigators are still putting together what happened and shouting guesses from the sidelines doesn't help anyone. Most of them are based around common causes for similar accidents, though, and they'll likely be included in the investigation. Much as it pains me to say it, impairment is among those common factors and it's important to look into. That might just get it ruled out, but if it played a part then it's important to understand what implications that might have.

Alexander Woods Killed; Becky Browning, Wayne Whitworth Injured in Smith County, TX Car Accident

People don't always know that Texas bars and other alcohol vendors are prohibited by dram shop law from over-serving alcohol to their customers--mostly because they do it all the time. When they do and those customers cause or suffer harm while under the influence, those bars may be liable for the damage done. Far from every accident involves impairment let alone a dram violation, but the two should be investigated together in case a negligent business is putting a community in harm's way.

Again, nobody is sure why this crash happened yet. Dram shop may not apply at all. It could have helped many people who never knew about it, though, and because of that I try to shed some light on it when it might be an issue. However, it's far from the only thing that needs careful investigation. I can't begin to count how many times victims and families came to me about a serious crash where police never bothered looking into things like medical episodes, vehicle defects, road hazards, tire blowouts, and other issues. Even if some causes seem less likely than others, the goal should always be to get as much evidence as possible and to let the facts speak for themselves. Will those steps be taken here?


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