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Texas teen avoids prison for fatal crash

A Texas teenager avoided prison time when he was sentenced on Dec. 10 for charges stemming from a fatal drunk driving accident, which happened on June 15 just outside Burleson. According to authorities, a 24-year-old woman pulled her broken-down car to the side of the road and was being helped by three Good Samaritans when they were all struck by a Ford F-350 pickup driven by the 16-year-old accused boy.

Police say that the stranded driver died instantly, along with the other three, who included a 21-year-old woman, her 52-year-old mother and a 41-year-old, male youth pastor. There were also seven passengers in the pickup truck, two of whom were sitting in the truck bed. Those two passengers were critically injured, and one of them is now paralyzed and brain-damaged and can only communicate through blinking.

Police say the pickup's driver had a blood-alcohol content level of .24, which is three times the legal limit in Texas. They also say he was driving 70 mph in a 40-mph zone. The accused had faced up to 20 years in prison but was instead sentenced to 10 years probation.

The defense attorneys in the case had argued that the driver suffered from affluenza, a term they used to describe a child who had been taught that money can buy anything. They said his wealthy parents had never taught him right from wrong and had showered him with whatever he wanted. While that defense may have spared the boy time in prison, it may not be enough to prevent civil litigation for wrongful death and personal injury. The families of the deceased victims and the two injured passengers in the truck could all pursue damages for expenses and injuries related to the wreck.

Source: NY Daily News, "Texas rich kid who killed 4 in drunken car crash spared jail", Philip Caufield, December 11, 2013

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