Betsy Mandujano, Mathew Banda Killed in Wrong-Way Accident on Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi, TX
UPDATE (November 10, 2022): Investigators have released further information about this accident. According to reports the wrong-way driver involved in the accident, Roxanne Palacios, had recently left Railroad Seafood & Brewing Co. where she attended a corporate event.
After leaving the restaurant Palacios made her way through local streets and then turned the wrong direction onto US-181 and the Harbor Bridge, where moments later she crashed into the vehicle carrying Betsy Mandujano and two passengers, one of whom was killed and the other seriously injured.
Corpus Christi, TX — November 2, 2022, 37-year-old Betsy Mandujano and another person died and two others were injured in a wrong-way collision on Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi.
Authorities say the incident happened shortly before 8:00 p.m. on Harbor Bridge (U.S. Highway 181). Preliminary investigation suggests Mandujano and friends were driving into Corpus Christi when their vehicle was hit by a wrong-way driver who police suspect was intoxicated.
Mandujano and another person were killed and two people were injured in the crash. The condition of Mandujano's friend is unknown.
Police say the wrong-way driver, a 35-year-old woman, may face intoxication-related charges.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Harbor Bridge Accident in Corpus Christi
UPDATE (November 11, 2022): Recent reports say that Railroad Seafood & Brewing Co. is being investigated by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in connection to the fatal crash on Harbor Bridge. Depending on what they find, the restaurant may be subject to some administrative corrections like fines or temporary license suspension.
Those can hurt the business and make a point, but they do little to help the people more directly harmed by the business' negligence. As I mentioned before, that's where dram shop law may come in.
It's my firm belief that everyone responsible for such a tragic incident should be held fully accountable. The TABC will determine if the restaurant should answer to the state, but who will make it answer to the people whose lives it so recklessly and irrevocably changed?
UPDATE (November 10, 2022): Reports suggest that the wrong-way driver in this accident was thought to be dangerously intoxicated--including by a coworker at the restaurant who unsuccessfully tried to take her keys out of concern.
I can't say if her coworker or police are right about alcohol, and as always it's important to have clear proof (like blood test results) before even strong suspicions can be regarded as facts. However, if evidence confirms she was as drunk as people seem to think then charging her accordingly may not be the end of the matter. As I mentioned before, Texas and many other states hold alcohol providers legally accountable if they continue to sell or serve drinks to obviously intoxicated customers.
If the suspect "stumbled out" of the mentioned restaurant as reports allege, should the staff there have noticed her condition and cut her off long before that? I can't say from the sidelines, and I'm certainly not making unfounded accusations. All I know is if the suspect's last stop before the collision was a place that served her alcohol, then finding out precisely how she spent her evening there is in order.
Drunk drivers face harsh penalties for breaking the law, and it seems like the people who get them that way should be held accountable too. Reckless acts should have serious consequences, and bad bars should be taught harsh lessons about getting their priorities in order. Will that happen in Corpus Christi?
ORIGINAL: If clear evidence confirms that the wrong-way driver was intoxicated then she may have some serious legal consequences coming for her actions that night. Drunk driving puts people in harm's way and it's only right that those who do so pay a harsh penalty; however, I'd argue that everyone responsible for the crash that claimed two lives should be held similarly accountable. That's why it's important to talk about Texas dram shop law.
Under dram shop law, licensed alcohol providers who over-serve an obviously intoxicated person may be liable for injuries they cause or suffer while under the influence. A dram shop claim lets people harmed by drunk drivers--both those directly injured in the crash and the families of those who don't survive--confront the businesses who liquored them up and then sent them out the door. Such negligence deserves a harsh lesson about getting their priorities in order.
So will police consider whether a local watering hole had a hand in the tragedy on Harbor Bridge? Unfortunately, I doubt it. They tend to get preoccupied with the drunk drivers themselves and rarely chase down the source of their alcohol. If a dram shop violation might have occurred, the people affected by it may be better off having independent experts look into it.