• July 18, 2022

Joshua Smith, Matthew Fernandez, 1 Killed, Aaliyah Marie Peinado Injured in Wrong-Way Accident in Fort Hood, TX

Fort Hood, TX -- July 17, 2022, Joshua Smith, Matthew Fernandez, another were killed, Aaliyah Marie Peinado was injured, in a fatal accident involving a wrong-way driver.

Authorities reported that the crash took place early Saturday along I-14 in the area of Ft Hood TJ Mills.

Officials said that a Toyota Corolla was going eastbound in the westbound lanes. As a result, the Toyota crashed head-on with a Kia Optima.

Reports identified the Toyota driver as 22-year-old Matthew Fernandez, who succumbed to fatal injuries. An unidentified 20-year-old driving the Kia and one of their passengers, identified as 22-year-old Joshua Smith, also succumbed to fatal injuries. A second passenger in the Kia, 20-year-old Aaliyah Marie Peinado, went to a hospital with "life-altering injuries."

Police did not specify the cause of the crash, though reports include warnings not to drive drunk. Additional details are unavailable.

Commentary on Joshua Smith, Matthew Fernandez, Aaliyah Marie Peinado Wrong-Way Accident in Fort Hood

While it's important to take early reports with a grain of salt, it doesn't surprise me to see concerns of drunk driving surrounding this absolute tragedy. Frankly, it is almost always the cause of a serious wrong-way collision. Why is that, and, more importantly, why is that significant for the victims and families involved? Well, to the latter, there may be an accomplice responsible for all of this that has yet to be held accountable: a local bar.

I learned a long time ago across 30 years and hundreds of alcohol related crashes that red flags cannot be ignored. Any crash at 2:00 a.m. raises red flags because that's when bars close, so a lot of wrecks involve people coming from local bars. Furthermore, someone managing to go the wrong way on a service road, up an exit ramp, onto the wrong side of a major interstate almost always means they're not in their right state of mind.

Joshua Smith, Matthew Fernandez, 1 Killed, Aaliyah Marie Peinado Injured in Wrong-Way Accident in Fort Hood, TX

Is it possible something unusual happened, like a medical condition or signage that was removed or not clearly visible? Absolutely, and I would never suggest ignoring that. But like I said, these red flags are too big to ignore. And that's not just to sit around calling someone a potential drunk driver. Believe it or not, they in part could be victims, too.

Imagine the state of mind someone has to be in to not realize they're getting on the wrong side of the highway. Now, consider that in Texas dram shop law says that an alcohol provider who over-serves an obviously intoxicated person can be liable for damages resulting from that intoxication. If a bar serves someone to the point they get on the wrong side of an interstate, killing themselves and others, does that sound like that person was reasonably served?

At the end of the day, I only bring this up due to how common it is with reports like these. It's up to more thorough independent investigations to actually say what happened here and who may be responsible. But one thing to keep in mind is that getting victims and families the help they need is absolutely crucial. Part of that means ensuring they see those responsible for their hardships held fully accountable. Would it really be okay for a young man who lost his life simply take all the blame without authorities even bothering to find out if a local establishment profited off of all this chaos and has yet to be held accountable? For the grieving families and for a young woman possible facing life-changing injuries, I can't see any reason not to look into every possible avenue to get them the help and the answers they deserve.


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