• May 03, 2017

Janel Santana & Rebekah Santana Killed, Izaiah De LaRosa Hurt in Accident in Denton, TX

Denton, TX -- 44-year-old Janel Santana and her 22-year-old daughter, Rebekah Santana, were killed, and Izaiah De LaRosa, 19, was injured in an alleged alcohol-related crash in the area of Denton, TX Saturday, April 29, 2017.

The incident occurred in near 2800 East University Drive around 8:25 p.m. According to police reports, the victims were traveling in the westbound lane of East University Drive when their vehicle was struck by an eastbound GMC Yukon driven by 19-year-old Izaiah De LaRosa.

It appears both Janel and Rebekah Santana were killed at the scene of the incident.

Mr. De LaRosa was taken to a nearby hospital with serious injuries; he was last listed in stable condition.

Police say they intend on charging Mr. De LaRosa with two counts of intoxication manslaughter upon his release.

The investigation is ongoing.

map of the area

Commentary

According to the details of the report, the alleged drunk driver in this crash faces two counts of intoxication manslaughter. Now if he was over the age of 21, it would be easier to understand how Texas liquor liability laws might apply.

However, the report also claims the driver blamed for the deadly collision is only 19-years-old. While this leaves two likely events leading up to this crash, it also opens up a discussion regarding a somewhat complex area of the law.

Denton, Texas is home to several college universities. If you've ever been to a college campus, you can attest to the fact that bars that cater to college-aged clientele can often be pretty lax when it comes to checking identification. From my experience in litigating alcohol-related crashes, I can tell you that there are plenty of college bars that turn a blind eye to illegally serving underage patrons.

Another reasonable possibility might be the driver was at a fraternity or sorority party prior to the collision. And here's where we get into an interesting, little-known area of liquor liability law.

Lets' say the driver was at a fraternity house and was given alcohol for free. The person hosting the party would have what is known as social host status and would be free of liability for damages incurred as result of the driver's intoxication. Even if the driver is over the age of 18, yet under the legal age of 21, as in this case.

However, if the person throwing the party charged guests for the booze, the person hosting the party may be held liable if that individual gets drunk, leading to harm as a result of their drunkenness.

So, how would this apply to a fraternity or sorority party? Though fraternities and sororities are unlikely to be licensed to provide alcohol, more often than not they charge their guests a "cover fee" in order to recoup funds for booze and party supplies, and to make a profit (some of you may be familiar with the ubiquitous "red cup" commonly provided to paying guests at house parties.)

In this scenario, the fraternity or sorority may be considered an unlicensed provider of alcohol and may incur liability for damages caused by the intoxicated guest.

All that being said, there's no way for us to know if either of these scenarios occurred in this case. Until a more thorough investigation takes place, we have only the details in the early media reports upon which to rely. Nonetheless, we know the driver faces two counts of intoxication manslaughter in this crash. I would hate see others that may have been involved in this accident not held to face the consequences for playing a role as well.

-Grossman Law Offices

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