Melquiades Vela Jr. Injured in SUV Crash on Clay Street in Bowie, TX
Bowie, TX — June 29, 2022, 40-year-old Melquiades Vela Jr. was injured in a single-vehicle crash on West Clay Street in Montague County.
According to reports the incident happened around 12:25 a.m. on West Clay (TX-59) near Cowan Street. Preliminary investigation suggests Vela was driving a Chevy Tahoe north on the highway, allegedly passing other vehicles at high speeds, when he allegedly failed to negotiate a sharp right-hand curve.
The Tahoe ran off the road to the north, then hit an embankment and went airborne. It crashed into several concrete-filled pipes and a gasoline tank on a nearby property, causing gas to spill out of the tank's pipes and onto the SUV and the ground. No fires were reported.
Vela suffered serious injuries in the crash. Police suspected he was under the influence of alcohol at the time.
No further information is available at this time.
Commentary on Melquiades Vela Jr. Accident in Bowie
Authorities suspected alcohol may have played a role in this accident. In most cases police look for proof of that either by drawing blood to test or getting the victim's hospital records; it's unclear whether they did either here, but neither would surprise me.
If evidence confirms intoxication was involved then some might the only thing left is to charge the driver accordingly; between that and his injuries many would probably assume that's plenty of consequences to go around since no one else was hurt. However, there may be other issues to look into as well. For example, a local alcohol provider might have over-served the victim and made him too impaired to drive. If that happened, the business may be responsible for his injuries under Texas dram shop law.
When a licensed alcohol vendor like a bar or restaurant over-serves an obviously intoxicated customer, it breaks the law. Period. If that customer causes or suffers injuries while under the influence, the business may be liable for the victims' injuries.
Dram shop gives people hurt in DWI crashes (including the drivers themselves) the right to seek help from businesses that serve alcohol in excess to their patrons. It also teaches those businesses a serious lesson about getting their priorities straight and obeying the law.
Not all DWI wrecks start with dram violations, and I'm not saying I know of a specific Bowie bar that misbehaved. If police don't plan to find out for sure, though, an independent investigation may be best to help the crash victim get back on his feet.