I've mentioned before that Houston ranks uncomfortably highly in matters of drunk driving. Not only does it have the most DUI-related deaths of any Texas city, but it consistently ranks in the top 5 cities throughout the entire U.S.
Sometimes it seems like Houston actually wants to remind everybody who wears that tarnished crown in Texas, so it spices up the already-terrible details of its DUI crashes and creates an "Only in Houston" wreck. For instance, over the weekend the incredibly unlucky driver of a Cadillac sedan not only stalled on the highway, but had his car struck twice by drunk drivers during that time, causing fatal injuries to his passenger.
The unnamed man's car became disabled in the middle lane of Beltway 8 over Bellaire Boulevard. Not long after the Cadillac stopped, 33-year-old Chelsey Dennis failed to notice it from the cab of her own approaching car and rear-ended it. The force of the impact ejected a female passenger from the Cadillac; she died of the injuries she sustained during the crash.
As the sedan's male driver ran out in the road to check on the ejected woman a pickup truck driven by 43-year-old Tacuma Lee Fears also crashed into the two disabled cars, bringing the number of involved vehicles up to three. The Cadillac's male driver was taken to the hospital with critical injuries sustained during the second wreck.
Both Fears and Chelsey Dennis were charged by police with Driving While Intoxicated, and Fears was also charged as a felon in possession of a deadly weapon.
When We Hear About Weird Crashes, We Look at Houston.
We've made an effort to highlight how egregious the drunk driving problem in Harris County is. We even maintain an ongoing chronicle of Houston DUI crashes we see in the news in an effort to emphasize how serious and chronic the problem is.
So when we came across a headline about a disabled motorist getting hit by not one, but two unrelated drunk drivers, we correctly guessed that the crash happened in Houston. If the problem weren't endangering over two million people every day, it might be kind of funny that it's so easy to pinpoint where the wildest DUI crashes occur. As it is, it's deadly serious and it needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
This problem is only going to stop if and when Houston gets its act together and more aggressively pursues punishments against drunk drivers and the bars that supply them. The district attorney's office is making small strides toward curbing the damage caused by drunk driving, but it seems like many citizens and the bars they frequent are still far too willing to flout the law in exchange for a rowdier evening.
Texas dram shop law tries to help make those injured by drunk drivers whole. It's an effective measure to hold bars accountable for over-serving their patrons, but it can't undo the damage those patrons cause after their sixth tequila shot. Despite the fact that it can't stop every determined rulebreaker any more than the threat of criminal prosecution does, without dram shop law I suspect we'd see a lot more "Only in Houston"-style crashes in the news.