• July 18, 2022

Elpidio Mireles Killed, Leticia Mireles Injured in Combes, TX Car Accident

UPDATE (August 2, 2022): Sources have identified the victims of this accident as Elpidio Mireles, 69, who died in the crash, and Leticia Mireles, 63, who was seriously injured.

Combes, TX — July 16, 2022, one person died and another was injured by an alleged DWI driver on Interstate 69 in Combes.

According to reports, the incident happened around 12:42 on southbound I-69E near Cecil Sorell Road. Preliminary investigation suggests 36-year-old Erica Johnson was driving a Kia Sorento south on the highway near a Chevrolet Suburban, also headed south.

Reports say Johnson swerved left to avoid a non-contact vehicle ahead of her in the lane, causing the Kia to crash into the side of the Suburban. After the impact the Chevy overturned and rolled several times.

The Suburban's driver and passenger were taken to a Harlingen hospital for treatment of serious injuries. The driver died a short time later.

Investigators say Johnson and her passenger fled on foot and failed to render aid. Johnson was found a short time later hiding in a nearby field and was arrested of preliminary charges of intoxication manslaughter, intoxication assault, failure to stop and render aid causing death, and failure to stop and render aid causing serious bodily injury. 

The investigation continues. No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Elpidio and Leticia Mireles Accident in Combes

UPDATE (August 19, 2022): Later reports indicate the suspect in this crash had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .202 at the time. I don't say that with judgment, but confirmation that he was significantly over the legal limit for intoxication may change how the investigation should proceed.

As I mentioned before, alcohol-related crashes in Texas and many other states sometimes involve holding the businesses that served it responsible for the damage their intoxicated patrons cause or suffer. Under dram shop law any business that continued serving alcohol to an obviously intoxicated customer may have a legal duty to help the surviving victim and her family recover from the damage that customer caused in Combes.

The first thing to do is investigate that possibility carefully. Police are unfortunately not too helpful with that, so it's usually best for victims to get help from independent investigators who know how to get the necessary evidence. Armed with the evidence those experts turn up, many people hurt by reckless over-service have held bad businesses accountable for breaking the law and causing them harm.

Elpidio Mireles Killed, Leticia Mireles Injured in Combes, TX Car Accident

ORIGINAL: If clear evidence like blood test results shows the suspect was intoxicated as police suspect, then it looks as though she faces some very serious charges. That's not unreasonable; a man lost his life, after all, and if drunk driving caused that then appropriate consequences should follow. However, is the alleged DWI driver really the only one to hold accountable? What about whoever provided her alcohol?

Texas dram shop law says an alcohol provider that over-serves an obviously intoxicated person may be liable for injuries that person causes or suffers while under the influence. The business could be a bar, liquor store, restaurant, or even a gas station, but if its staff served or sold drinks to the suspect despite her being clearly past her limits then the law says they may be responsible for the harm she did.

It's unclear if over-service was an issue in the Combes accident. Even if the suspect was drunk, that doesn't mean a business broke the law by giving her too much. That detail just bears careful consideration in just about any wreck where alcohol and injuries are tied together. Considering the serious damage done in the crash, everyone responsible for it should be held accountable for their role. If the victims and their loved ones can get some help with the difficult road to recovery, surely that's worth looking into as well.

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