• December 28, 2022

Jose Benitez Killed in Auto Accident on FM 616 near Vanderbilt, TX

Vanderbilt, TX — December 25, 2022, 64-year-old Jose Benitez died in a head-on collision on Farm to Market Road 616 just outside Vanderbilt.

Authorities say the incident happened around 7:30 a.m. on FM 616, roughly a mile west of town. Preliminary investigation suggests Benitez was driving an Oldsmobile Intrigue west as 28-year-old Aaron Gartman was headed east in an Acura vehicle.

Investigators believe Gartman drifted into the westbound lane near a steep curve, after which the Acura and the Oldsmobile collided head-on. Both vehicles then ran off the road and the Oldsmobile caught fire.

Benitez was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Gartman was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at a Victoria hospital.

The investigation continues. No further information is currently available.

Jose Benitez Killed in Auto Accident on FM 616 near Vanderbilt, TX

It's not exactly clear what happened here yet, but I wonder if some folks will make the mistake of thinking what we see in the news is really all there is to know. Police say one driver crossed over in or close to a curve, which may be enough for people to say he caused the crash and think little more about it. However, it's worth noting that neither the news nor police seem to know why that crossover happened yet. The rough sketch officers put together at the scene is nowhere near the finished picture provided by a full and careful investigation.

Is it possible this was really just a matter of momentary but costly recklessness? Of course. Is it also possible however that unseen elements--slick roads, poor road design, vehicle malfunctions, etc--had something to do with the crash and its terrible result? Yes, and the victim's loved ones deserve no less than the whole story. Will police efforts alone be enough to find that for them?

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