Benjamin Puente, Christopher Hughes Killed in Wrong-way Accident on I-35E at Camp Wisdom in Dallas, TX
UPDATE (January 15, 2024): Details from county officials identified the victims in the crash as Benjamin Puente and Christopher Hughes. Right now, additional details remain unconfirmed.
Dallas, TX — January 9, 2024, two people were killed following a wrong-way driver accident at around 1:35 a.m. on Interstate 35E.
Current statements from authorities say they were called to the crash scene along northbound lanes of R. L. Thornton Freeway.
It appears a pickup somehow got onto the wrong side of the interstate and drove southbound into northbound traffic. This resulted in the pickup crashing head-on with a car, following which the car collided with a flatbed truck. Due to this collision, two people suffered fatal injuries.
One other person involved was taken to a hospital with unspecified injuries. There were no other reported injuries. Authorities have not reported any contributing factors at this time pending their investigations.
I'm going to say what everyone is probably already thinking: this was most likely a drunk driving crash. Now, I'm not saying that to be crass, and I obviously can't say that for certain, since the facts aren't clear right now. But there are two main reasons I say this. For one, current details mirror almost every single wrong-way crash our firm has helped families through, and those all ended up involving drunk drivers. Second, the stats are on my side, plain and simple.
This early in the morning, drunk driving is incredibly common. In the vast majority of wrong-way collisions, evidence shows the wrong-way driver was intoxicated. The odds this crash involved anything but intoxicated driving simply aren't high. It's possible something unusual happened here, but I wouldn't count on it.
What really makes this concerning, though, is that it takes a lot for someone not to realize they're passing a bunch of warning signs, going up an exit ramp, and driving into oncoming traffic long enough to hit someone. That's why wrong-way drivers usually end up being extremely intoxicated, and that usually means they were over-served by a local establishment.
Bars, restaurants, clubs, and other establishments serving people to the degree they can't tell right from left are virtually guaranteed to have broken the law, and that can open them up to all sorts of legal consequences. This can potentially include things like liability for an accident, criminal charges, fines, and even TABC closing the business for good in some circumstances. That's important here because those consequences could be the difference between a business in our community continuing to put lives at risk and a business cleaning up its act before other families suffer the same fate as the families involved here.
So when I read about this crash and say that it's most likely a drunk driving crash, I'm not saying that just so I can say, "I told you so," if evidence proves me right. My concern is that thorough investigations into just about every single crash like the one described here ends up revealing that there's an alcohol provider in the community putting lives at risk. If that happened here, as well, there needs to be appropriate consequences before their behavior gets more people killed.