• October 20, 2022

Vernon Johnson Killed in Hit-and-Run on Third Street in Conroe, TX

Conroe, TX — October 16, 2022, cyclist Vernon Johnson died in a hit-and-run accident on Third Street in Montgomery County.

Authorities say the incident happened early Sunday along Third near Pauline Street. Preliminary investigation suggests Johnson may have been riding a bicycle in the area when he was hit and killed by a Ford F-150 pickup truck driven by 24-year-old Jesse Valdez.

Valdez reportedly left the scene after hitting Johnson but crashed a short time later at North Loop 336 East and First Street. A county deputy found him walking nearby and arrested him for Public Intoxication, which was changed to Intoxication Manslaughter and Failure to Stop and Render Aid after Valdez was linked to the hit-and-run.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Vernon Johnson Hit-and-Run in Conroe

UPDATE (November 22, 2022): Later reports indicate the suspect had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .173 at the time of the crash. I don't say that in judgment, but confirmation that he was over the legal limit for intoxication may mean there's more to investigate.

As I previously mentioned, alcohol-related crashes 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 if their customer was obviously intoxicated may have a legal duty to make what amends it can to the family of the man who lost his life.

Even if that's the case, though, the over-service must be proven. Police investigations aren't very helpful for that, so it's usually best for victims to get help from independent investigators who know how to get the necessary evidence. Armed with what those experts find, many people hurt by reckless over-service have helped teach bad businesses an important lesson.

Vernon Johnson Killed in Hit-and-Run on Third Street in Conroe, TX

ORIGINAL: It sounds like a lucky turn of events helped authorities quickly locate and apprehend the driver who took the victim's life that night. If they believe he was intoxicated as suggested in reports, hopefully they also took steps to verify that and find out his approximate BAC.

Some may not think that step especially critical if they already have him for fleeing the scene, but it's always best to gather as many facts as possible about a given crash--including learning more about what happened leading up to it. That's especially important in alcohol-related accidents, because depending on where and how much the suspect drank he may not be the only one to hold responsible for the fatal damage done to the victim.

Texas dram shop law says that a licensed alcohol provider (bar, store, restaurant, etc) who over-serves an obviously intoxicated person may be liable for damages that person causes while under the influence. By making alcohol vendors take responsibility for their part what happened, they get the message to clean up their act and obey the law. Moreover, the same laws ensure the victims of the business's negligence can seek help recovering from its effects.

Not every drunk driving accident starts with a dram shop violation, but the source of the alcohol is an important detail to learn during a full investigation. If a local bar is endangering its customers and community with over-service, that behavior should be discovered and stopped as quickly as possible.

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