• May 17, 2022

Haley Nightingale Killed in Single-Vehicle Accident on TX-152 in Hutchinson County

Hutchinson County, TX -- May 15, 2022, 19-year-old Haley Nightingale was killed in a single-vehicle crash on State Highway 152 in Hutchinson County.

Authorities say the incident happened around 9:45 p.m. on TX-152 near mile marker 338, east of Borger. Preliminary investigation suggests Nightingale was driving a Ford F-250 pickup truck west on the highway when she lost control for unknown reasons. The truck veered into the median and Nightingale over-corrected, side-skidding back into the roadway and overturning.

Nightingale , reportedly not wearing a seat belt, was ejected and suffered fatal injuries.

The crash remains under investigation. No further information is available at this time.

Commentary on Haley Nightingale Accident in Hutchinson County

UPDATE (July 26, 2022): Later reports say the victim had a BAC of .111, just north of the legal limit, at the time of the crash. I say that with no judgment, but if her state of impairment was a factor in the wreck then there may be other issues to investigate.

People don't always know that victims of DWI crashes--even the alleged DWI drivers--are sometimes able to hold bars or other alcohol vendors accountable for the damage done in their crashes. That's a matter of dram shop law.

Over the years working on dram shop and liquor liability cases, I've learned that alcohol vendors willing to sell to underage people at all don't usually have problems with over-serving them as well. If one did that in Hutchinson County, that business may have a duty to make what amends it can to the victim's family.

Not every DWI crash involves a dram shop violation, but did authorities even consider that possibility? Frankly I doubt it. Despite how important it is to catch bad bars for over-service and make them stop, police rarely look into that. Independent investigations often stand a better chance of rooting out that behavior and holding those businesses properly accountable.

Haley Nightingale Killed in Single-Vehicle Accident on TX-152 in Hutchinson County

ORIGINAL: It's not clear what exactly happened here, but some folks may be much too quick to blame the driver. Statistically speaking most single-vehicle accidents are due to operator errors like speeding or distraction from a cell phone, and because people are generally aware of that they have a bad habit of deciding every similar wreck must be due to something of that nature.

I'm not saying those aren't important possibilities to investigate, but they're far from the only ones and it's not right to take them for granted. What if the pickup had mechanical issues or blew a tire? Could the road in that area have been wet or otherwise hazardous? Did the driver have some kind of medical emergency? Could some other driver have caused the victim's crash but then left the scene?

I recognize that some of those questions seem less likely than others to be involved, but they're all distinctly possible as factors here and each deserves proper attention when seeking the truth. It's important to get clear answers, if for no other reason than to provide the victim's loved ones with the truth about their terrible loss. If there are issues of accountability to look into as well, knowing that depends largely on what the full story turns out to be. It remains to be seen if law enforcement will put enough effort into finding that story.

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