Alcohol, Speed a Factor in Crash That Killed 4 Pedestrians: Sheriff

Driver had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24, sheriff says

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said Tuesday the investigation into a crash that killed four pedestrians in Fort Worth last month is nearly complete.

During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Anderson outlined how the crash took place and said alcohol and speed were definitely a factor in the fatal crash.

The sheriff's office previously said that Breanna Mitchell, 24, of Lillian, was stopped along the 1500 block of Burleson-Retta Road in a disabled sport utility vehicle. At some point, Brian Jennings, a 43-year-old Burleson youth minister, happened upon Mitchell and stopped his white pickup truck to help. Jennings was joined by Hollie Boyles, 42, and Shelby Boyles, 21, a mother and daughter who lived nearby.

Anderson said Tuesday that the disabled SUV was clipped by a red Ford pickup truck traveling between 68 and 70 mph.

The red truck then struck and killed all four people who were standing near the disabled SUV before hitting Jennings' truck, which had two children inside. The truck was then pushed into the roadway and into a passing Volkswagen driven by Ashlyn Evans, 18.

The red truck, which had eight teen occupants, including the driver, ended up upside down in a tree.

"In my time at the sheriff's office, I truly believe this was probably the most difficult accident scene we've had to work," said Anderson. "It was a tremendously trying job for the people who showed up to have four people who were killed instantly at the scene -- it was a terrible thing for anyone to come upon."

Anderson said the driver of the truck had a blood alcohol level of 0.24, three times the legal limit of 0.08.

Anderson said the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is investigating where the teens got the alcohol. The teens first tried to buy it at a convenience store but stole it when they were turned down, he said.

"We subsequently went to the Wal-Mart in Burleson and found a surveillance video of people from the truck going in and stealing two cases of beer," Anderson said.

With the investigation nearly complete, crash scene investigators are shocked that only four people were killed in the crash, Anderson said.

"The fact that you had eight people in the pickup truck, none of them wearing seat belts, two of them in the bed of the pickup truck, that the truck completely flipped over ... and became almost damaged to the point of being not recognizable as a vehicle, and that everyone that was in that vehicle is still alive -- the surprise to all of us who have done this for any length of time is that the loss of life wasn't much greater that it was," Anderson said. "To hit three separate vehicles, four pedestrians, go airborne and land in a tree, it's shocking that no one else lost their life."

Investigators worked the crash scene for nearly 10 hours after the collision and reconstructed the crash measurements twice -- once in the dark and once in daytime. Police in a helicopter got pictures from the air to help with the investigation. Anderson showed photos from that investigation during his news conference on Tuesday.

"It is a tragedy that is unlike something that we've seen for awhile. It is a, something that, was completely preventable. It's something that, because a group of people made some very, very bad decisions, four totally innocent people lost their lives. There's just no other way to say it."

Anderson said the sheriff's office is dedicated to seeing the case through to the end and to getting it prosecuted. Anderson said the case will now be handed over to the district attorney's office, who plans to handle the case in juvenile court.

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