• August 08, 2022

Katey Kirkland Dead, Kevin Kirkland Injured when Truck Hits House in White Settlement, TX

UPDATE (September 9, 2022): New developments in this case suggest that the passenger in Donald Gruber's pickup truck, 69-year-old Peggy Cox, has been arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter in connection to the accident that took the life of Katey Kirkland.

Authorities now say both Gruber and Cox were slightly over the legal limit for intoxication at the time of the crash. Gruber allegedly passed out while coughing as the truck was in motion, then slumped over the steering wheel and pressed the gas pedal. Cox grabbed the wheel from the passenger seat in an effort to control the pickup, which prosecutors argued meant she was partly responsible for the pickup crashing into the house on Jason Court.

White Settlement, TX — August 7, 2022, Katey Kirkland and Kevin Kirkland was seriously injured when a pickup truck crashed into their house in White Settlement.

According to reports the incident happened Sunday afternoon on the 6300 block of Jason Court, near West Loop 820. Preliminary investigation suggests a pickup truck with a hitched flatbed trailer was passing through the neighborhood when the driver lost control. The truck ran off the road and crashed through the Kirklands' back fence, then smashed through several bedrooms in their house.

18-year-old Katey Kirkland died in the accident. Kevin Kirkland, her father, suffered serious injuries and was taken to an area hospital. Her mother was also in the house but avoided serious injuries.

The driver of the pickup truck, 63-year-old Donald Gruber, was arrested on suspicion of intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault. A passenger in the pickup reportedly told officers they drank alcohol before the crash.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Kirkland Family Accident in White Settlement

ORIGINAL: Given the circumstances of this crash and the passenger's admission that they were drinking, it seems reasonable that alcohol is considered a possible factor. Blood tests should offer some insight into exactly how big a contribution (if any) it made.

Some people may wonder how important it really is to learn how much of a factor impairment was since the driver's already facing serious legal consequences, but in Texas and many other states alcohol-related wrecks are a little more complex than that. For instance, if a local business sold or served the driver alcohol even though he was clearly past his limits, it could mean this accident has further implications under dram shop law.

Katey Kirkland Dead, Kevin Kirkland Injured when Truck Hits House in White Settlement, TX

Dram shop law says an alcohol-selling vendor (bars, clubs, restaurants, stores, etc) may not provide more drinks to an obviously intoxicated customer. If they continue serving that customer and then that person causes harm while inebriated, the business may then be obligated to help anyone they hurt. Not every DWI crash involves a dram shop violation, but it's important to find out for sure in case anyone besides the driver should be held accountable for their part.

I'm not accusing any White Settlement vendors of wrongdoing. I bring up dram shop law because I know from years of experience that it could helped many people who never knew it existed. It gives victims and their loved ones a way to seek assistance after being hurt and also holds reckless businesses accountable for over-service, yet despite that police rarely look into dram violations. Will they do so here, or is this another situation where those affected would be better served by independent investigations?

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