On January 4, 2023, at approximately 9:25 p.m., officers responded to a crash on FM 119, just 8 miles outside of Dumas, TX. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the two-vehicle crash involved a wrong way driver in an older model Chevy Suburban. The Suburban, driven by 18-year-old Jena Larios-Tipaz, was headed west on FM 119 in the wrong lane of travel when his vehicle struck a Chevy Silverado traveling eastbound in the same lane. The driver of the Silverado, 47-year-old Shawna Granillo was pronounced dead at the scene. Larios-Tipaz was transported to Moor County hospital with minor injuries, where it was determined that he had been drinking. Larios-Tipaz was treated and released into DPS custody where he was booked into the Moore County jail on a charge of Intoxication Manslaughter.
When I hear of an underage age driver killing someone in a drunk driving crash, I wonder who provided the alcohol. Was it sold to an underage person by a store or did they drink at a bar or restaurant? Those are important questions that the victim’s family needs answered. Having the details not only provides some sense of closure, but it may lead to evidence that an alcohol provider was involved in selling to this person prior to the crash. This is all very important information because that may mean that the victim’s family can sue an alcohol provider for their involvement in tragically losing a loved one. In Texas, the Dram Shop Act allows an establishment that sells alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person who goes on to injure themself or someone else to be sued for their role in the crash. They can also be sued if they sell to a minor involved in injuring themself or someone else. If a victim or their loved ones suspect alcohol was involved, it is imperative that a thorough investigation is performed quickly and that evidence is preserved, such as videos, dash cameras, receipts, black box information and any other evidence that might disappear. Getting an experienced attorney involved early on can make all the difference by providing the family the support they need as they start the difficult task of moving forward.