• May 24, 2022

Hayden Watkins Killed, Amy Epperson Injured in Wrong-Way Crash on Business 35 in Rockport, TX

Rockport, TX -- May 13, 2022, 33-year-old Hayden Watkins was killed and 51-year-old Amy Epperson was injured in a crash on I-35 Business in Aransas County.

Authorities say the incident happened around 11:55 p.m. on Business 35 near Broadway Street. Preliminary investigation suggests Watkins was driving a Ford Ranger pickup south from Broadway up a northbound exit ramp from Business 35. He left the ramp into the northbound lanes of the highway traveling the wrong direction and soon after crashed head-on with a Chevrolet Express van driven by Epperson.

Watkins suffered fatal injuries in the crash. Epperson was seriously injured.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Hayden Watkins, Amy Epperson Accident on Business 35 in Rockport

Investigators could only say that the man who lost his life in this crash drove the wrong way up an exit ramp onto a limited-access highway. They didn't say exactly why that happened, but I have a feeling some folks will have theories of their own.

Most crashes involving wrong-way drivers, particularly those where they must go out of their way to travel the wrong direction such as on ramps and highways, happen because the driver is intoxicated at the time. I can't and won't say that's what happened in Rockport, and it's best that nobody else jumps to such a conclusion either. It may be tempting to point to alcohol or driver distraction, but something else like a sudden medical episode or even simple disorientation could have caused the driver to make his fatal mistake. Only careful and thorough investigation could say with more certainty, and until that's done nobody should make up their minds.

Hayden Watkins Killed, Amy Epperson Injured in Wrong-Way Crash on Business 35 in Rockport, TX

If alcohol is found to be a factor here, however, then like many other wrong-way crashes it's important to find out where the drinks came from. Why? Because a local business out there may have some legal responsibility for both victims' injuries under Texas dram shop law.

Again, I don't say that to suggest I know what happened here. I just know that victims and families affected by these crashes often believe they'll have to face the uphill battles of recovery on their own and that's not always true. They never learn about their rights under dram shop law because police don't look too closely into it. Sometimes blood tests are ordered as part of the investigation (unclear if that happened here), but even positive results for impairment rarely send them out looking for it source.

Getting justice for people hurt in these accidents includes making sure all the crash's factors are fully accounted for. Whether police investigators or independent professionals with more specialized experience do the looking, ensuring victims and families get the answers and help they deserve should always be a priority. Are those steps being taken here?

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