• August 01, 2022

SCSO Deputy Lorenzo Bustos Killed by Alleged DWI Driver in Tyler, TX

Tyler, TX — July 28, 2022, 29-year-old Smith County Sheriff's deputy Lorenzo Bustos was fatally struck by an alleged drunk driver on State Highway 155 in Tyler.

According to reports the incident happened late Thursday night along TX-155 near County Road 1237. Preliminary investigation suggests Bustos, in the middle of a traffic stop with his training officer, was standing near the back of a Smith County patrol car when it was rear-ended by a Mercedes vehicle traveling on the highway.

The impact pushed the deputy underneath the patrol car and he suffered critical injuries. He was rushed to an area hospital where he died the following morning. The training officer and one person detained in the car's back seat received minor injuries.

Blood tests later revealed the Mercedes driver, identified as 21-year-old Daniel Nyabuto, had a BAC of approximately .144 at the time of the accident. He may face intoxication manslaughter charges.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Lorenzo Bustos Accident on TX-155 in Tyler

UPDATE (November 11, 2022): Recent reports say that Where’s Rufus Sports Bar in Tyler is being investigated by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in connection to the crash that killed Deputy Lorenzo Bustos.

I mentioned before that there can be legal consequences if a bar over-serves its customers. The TABC handles consequences on the government's behalf, and depending on what it finds it may issue a warning, fine, or something more serious to the offending business. It's important that a law-breaking bar answers to the state, of course, but those punishments do little about the same bar's duty to the people it hurts.

That's why dram shop law is so important. Fines and license suspensions can help teach a bar a lesson, but in many cases they're a slap on the wrist that doesn't convince them to prioritize safety over profit. Dram shop claims stand a better chance of making that point, and they provide people hurt by a bar's negligence a chance to confront it directly.

I wouldn't presume to speak for the family who lost a loved one in Tyler, but it's my firm belief that everyone responsible for such a tragic incident should be held fully accountable. The TABC will try to ensure the bar answers to the state, but who will make it answer to the people whose lives it so recklessly and irrevocably changed?

SCSO Deputy Lorenzo Bustos Killed by Alleged DWI Driver in Tyler, TX

ORIGINAL: From all accounts this was a terrible and wholly-avoidable accident that claimed the life of a well-liked member of law enforcement. My heart goes out to his family after their loss.

It may seem after reading reports like the offending driver is in custody and therefore justice will be served. However, one thing people don't always realize about Texas drunk driving accidents is many DWI drivers have "accomplices" of sorts that should face their own consequences. That's where Texas dram shop law comes in.

Under dram shop law a licensed alcohol vendor (bar, restaurant, club, store, etc) that sells or serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated customer may be liable for any injuries that customer causes while under the influence. Depending on where the alleged DWI driver's drinks came from in Tyler, a local business may be obligated by dram shop law to make whatever amends it can to the fallen deputy's loved ones.

In the course of my career I've seen the devastating effects of that reckless and illegal over-service far too many times, and I can't be alone in wanting the places that do it held accountable. 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 if a bar is endangering its community. Will police look into that possibility here, or will they be content to address the symptom and not the disease? If so, maybe an independent investigation would help the victim's family get the help and justice they deserve.

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