Walter Else III Killed in Single-Vehicle Accident on Loop 281 in Longview, TX
Longview, TX -- May 8, 2022, 51-year-old Walter Else III was fatally injured in a single-vehicle accident on State Loop 281 in Longview.
Authorities say the incident happened around 5:45 a.m. on Loop 281 near Eastwood Street. Preliminary investigation suggests Else was driving a GMC Sierra pickup east on the Loop in the outside lane when he lost control for unknown reasons. The truck traveled off the road and shoulder, then rolled down an embankment and hit a concrete culvert. It then overturned on its left side.
Else suffered critical injuries in the wreck and was taken to a local hospital where he reportedly died on Monday, May 16. A passenger in the GMC was said to have received minor injuries in the crash.
Investigators noted a belief that Else was under the influence of alcohol and collected samples for testing.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Walter Else Accident on Loop 281 in Longview
Police seem to think the driver who lost his life in this accident was intoxicated when it happened. Even if blood tests confirm it some may feel there's not much else to say about that because his tragic passing means he's beyond any legal consequences, but they may not realize there are other aspects of DWI accidents to investigate. For instance, many drunk drivers have "accomplices" of sorts that too often escape any responsibility for their role in these crashes. With that in mind police should also find out where the victim drank before driving.
Texas and many other states broaden the responsibility for DWI wrecks beyond the drivers to sometimes include the businesses that sold or served them drinks. If further investigations determine a licensed alcohol vendor over-served the driver prior to the accident, that business may be responsible for his death under dram shop law. It may then be expected to make whatever amends it could to the victim's family and anyone else hurt by its reckless over-service.
Sometimes people argue that a bar shouldn't be held responsible for giving customers what they want, but the law disagrees. It's hard to dispute how dangerous it is for bars to serve drinks nonstop before turning their over-intoxicated customers loose on the roads. In the course of my career I've seen the devastating effects of that reckless and illegal behavior far too many times, and I can't be alone in wanting it shut down for good.
Dram shop law was created to ensure negligent over-service is met with appropriate consequences. Not every DWI wreck starts with a dram violation, but they're more common than many people think and they should be dealt with swiftly in case a bar is endangering the community. So will the authorities look into the possibility of such a violation here, or would an independent investigation better ensure the victim's family gets the help and justice they deserve?