GCSO Sgt. John Hamm Injured by Alleged DWI Driver in Crystal Beach, TX
Crystal Beach, TX -- May 22, 2022, a Galveston County Sheriff’s Office deputy was injured by an alleged DWI driver at Jeep Weekend in Galveston County.
Authorities say the incident happened around 1:40 a.m. along State Highway 87 near Holiday Beach Road. Preliminary investigation suggests GCSO Sergeant John Hamm was directing traffic after an unrelated accident when a westbound Chevrolet Impala driven by 22-year-old Darius Gilbert hit him.
Hamm nearly went through the vehicle's windshield and suffered serious injuries in the crash. He was reportedly one of at least 38 people injured in the weekend-long event.
Investigators arrested Gilbert on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Reports indicate that limited visibility may also have been a factor in the collision.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Car Accident on Hwy 31 in Tyler
If I understand it correctly, Jeep Weekend is an unofficial event boasting thousands of visitors who bring lifted trucks and SUVs--unsurprisingly many of them Jeeps--to the area. Couple the rowdy Spring Break-like atmosphere with the willingness of beach tourist towns to accommodate the powerful thirst of all those visitors and it's almost certainly a recipe for at least a few DWI accidents.
That's not to say people shouldn't have a good time; I don't begrudge anyone that so long as they do it responsibly. The problem arises when they don't, which is too often a concern at these large-scale get-togethers. Officials estimated 80,000 people in oversized vehicles were traveling around the area, and in a crowd that size an unfortunate number were probably doing so while intoxicated. The deputy suffered the almost-inevitable effect of that, and it seems only right that the offending driver pay the related price for his choices (if clear proof indicates he really was drunk).
Some may think whatever trouble the suspect gets into is pretty much the beginning and the end of the matter, but there may actually be another party to consider when looking into consequences. Too often the businesses that sell or serve excessive quantities of alcohol to their customers get away with zero attention, but the law sees things differently. According to Texas dram shop law a licensed alcohol vendor (bar, nightclub, restaurant, etc) that sells or serves drinks to an obviously intoxicated customer may be legally responsible for any injuries that customer causes while drunk. That means any place that liquored up the suspect in Crystal Beach may have a legal responsibility to help the injured sergeant get back on his feet.
As I said, too many bars get away with their illegal behavior because dram shop law simply doesn't come up a lot after these incident. Drunk drivers get stiff punishments and people tend to think that's that, all while the bars that got them that way keep right on truckin' with the same reckless over-service. That bad behavior has to be stopped any time it's found in order to protect customers and the public alike, but finding it first requires looking for it and police don't. It also seems like local resources will be strained just keeping up with all the wild behaviors across town--at least until the Jeeps go roaring back the way they came. To make sure the injured victim gets any and all help he deserves, it may be best to have an independent investigator look further into the suspect's whereabouts that morning and the night before.