Bill Southerland Killed, Passenger Injured in Bell County, TX Auto Accident
Bell County, TX -- May 1, 2022, 37-year-old Bill Southerland was killed and his passenger was injured in a single-vehicle crash on Hunt Hill Road in Bell County.
Reports say the incident happened around 11:30 p.m. on Hunt Hill near Shaw Road. Preliminary investigation suggests Southerland was driving a Chevrolet Silverado pickup north on the roadway at speeds allegedly too high for the bumps and dips in the roadway. The second time the truck bottomed out in a dip he lost control and it entered a side-skid. The pickup left the east side of the road and crashed through a stock fence, swerving through the field beyond until it overturned and rolled.
Southerland was ejected as the truck rolled and suffered fatal injuries. The truck's 35-year-old passenger received serious injuries.
Investigators allege Southerland was intoxicated when he crashed and collected blood samples for testing.
No further information is available at this time.
Commentary on Bill Southerland Accident in Bell County
UPDATE (June 16, 2022): Later reports indicate the suspect had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .141 at the time of the crash. I don't say that in judgment, but confirmation that he was over the legal limit for intoxication may change how the wreck's aftermath should be approached.
As I mentioned previously, alcohol-related crashes sometimes involve holding the businesses that over-serve it responsible for the damage their intoxicated patrons cause or suffer. Under dram shop law such a business may have a legal duty to make what amends it can to the victim after the Arlington collision.
Unfortunately, bad bars and their dram violations generally get little attention from police. If something like that is suspected then it's usually best for victims to get help from independent investigators who know how to get the necessary proof. Armed with receipts, witness statements, video footage, and other evidence, many people hurt by reckless over-service have held bad businesses accountable for breaking the law and contributing to their injuries.
ORIGINAL: Police seem to think the driver in this crash was under the influence at the time. Some may feel there's little else to say about that since his tragic passing means he's beyond any legal consequences, but they may not realize that there's often another party to hold accountable for its role in accidents like this one.
Texas and many other states broaden the scope of responsibility for DWI wrecks beyond the drivers to sometimes include the businesses that sold or served them drinks. If investigations show that a licensed alcohol vendor over-served the victim prior to the accident, that business may be responsible for his death and his passenger's injuries under dram shop law.
When an alcohol provider keeps serving an obviously intoxicated customer and that customer's impairment leads to injuries or death--even his own--dram shop law may hold the business liable for the damage done. It would then be expected to make whatever amends it could to the people hurt by its reckless over-service.
Dram shop law is a valuable but too-often unknown tool that helps victims and families after DWI accidents. Will the authorities overlook the possibility of a dram shop violation as they often do, or are steps being taken to make sure the victim's family gets the help they need and deserve?