• May 23, 2022

Michael Coyne, Francisca Fuentes, Two Children Killed; Teens Injured in Wilmer, TX Crash

UPDATE (May 24, 2022): The drivers killed in this crash have been identified as minivan driver Francisca Fuentes and SUV driver Michael Coyne. Investigators are still working to determine why Fuentes was traveling the wrong direction in the roadway.

Wilmer, TX -- May 22, 2022, four people were killed in a collision involving a wrong-way driver on Interstate 45 in Wilmer, southeast of Dallas.

Authorities say the incident happened around 11:45 p.m. on I-45 near Mars Road. Preliminary investigation suggests a Dodge Caravan minivan was traveling north in the southbound lanes of the roadway when it collided head-on with a Ford Edge SUV. Investigators say two other vehicles were clipped in the crash and sustained minor damage.

The wrong-way driver and two children in her vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene. The male driver of the other vehicle also died in the crash. Two teens in his car were taken to an area hospital and are expected to recover. No other injuries were reported.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Wrong-Way Accident on I-45 in Wilmer

Images of the area surrounding I-45 at Mars Road show the multi-lane interstate stretching to both horizons with a concrete divider separating north- and southbound traffic. With that configuration it seems like it would be quite difficult for someone to access the wrong side of the road if they were behaving normally at the wheel. So what happened?

Nobody, myself included, should jump to any conclusions about that before sufficient evidence can tell the real story. It may be tempting to point to a common cause like intoxication or distraction when reading about what happened on the interstate in Wilmer, but it's still possible that something rarer like confusing signage or disorientation caused the driver to accidentally travel against traffic. Even if some factors seem more likely than others, a diligent and thorough investigation and the information it uncovers are the best tools to ensure the truth is known.

Michael Coyne, Francisca Fuentes, Two Children Killed; Teens Injured in Wilmer, TX Crash

If investigators find evidence that impairment was a factor here, though, that may also mean that a local business should be held accountable for the part it played. Most wrong-way crashes on controlled-access roads occur when folks are too impaired to recognize their mistake. That typically happens after they're over-served somewhere, and the business that did so may be liable for any injuries that customer causes--even to herself--under Texas dram shop law.

Again, I'm not saying I know what happened in Wilmer. I mention dram shop not to accuse anyone of drinking, but to be sure that an important part of the law that too few people know about is recognized in case it's learned that alcohol was a factor. I just know that victims and families affected by these incidents are often in the dark about what might come next after their injury or loss, and part of this blog's purpose is to help them understand their rights when too few other parties explain them. Figuring out what if anything comes next depends in large part on what investigators find, but will they look closely enough?

Police focus primarily on what happened during the crash and whether anyone broke the law, but rarely consider its broader context or the implications for the people affected. Getting those people the full story means making sure they know what to look for. Whether police or independent professionals do the looking, ensuring victims and families get the answers they deserve should always be a priority. Are those steps being taken here?

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