Horrific Crash Kills 4, Injures 10
FORT WORTH (CN) - After getting drunk on stolen beer, a 16-year-old boy killed four people and injured 10 by speeding his father's truck down a narrow road at 70 mph, the parents of a comatose victim claim in court.
Maria Lemus and Sergio Molina sued Ethan Couch, his parents Fred and Tonya Couch, and Cleburne Metal Works, in Tarrant County Court. They sued on their own behalf and for their son Sergio Molina, who was thrown from the bed of the truck and is in a vegetative state.
Fred Couch, Ethan's father, is president of Cleburne Metal Works, which owned the "huge red 2012 Ford F-350 pickup truck" that his son crashed, the Molinas say in the lawsuit.
The Tarrant County sheriff told local newspapers that the June 15 crash at two minutes before midnight was one of the worst in county history.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that 911 callers described mangled vehicles and kids "lying in ditches."
Ethan Couch had just turned 16 and was not allowed to drive on his restricted license unless an adult was with him, the Molinas say in the complaint.
What's more, he had been arrested when he was just 15 and criminally charged with possessing and drinking alcohol, and pleaded no-contest less than three months before the fatal wreck, the Molinas say.
His mother, Tonya, "was present at this court hearing and was obviously aware of Ethan Couch's problem with illegally drinking alcohol," according to the complaint.
The Molinas, and the Star-Telegram, say that Couch stole beer from a Wal-Mart that night. The newspaper reported that he tried to steal more beer from a convenience store.
Ethan Couch then got drunk in his home, "unsupervised by his parents, defendants Fred and Tonya Couch, or any other adults," the complaint states.
"Couch, who did not have the required licensed driver who was at least 21 years of age next to him in the front seat, left to go 'joy riding' in his father's company's truck.
"Sergio E. Molina was a passenger in the bed of the truck. There were five other young passengers inside the truck and another boy was seated next to him in the bed."
In the few seconds it took Couch to drive from his house to the site of the fatal wreck, two-tenths of a mile away, "he was already traveling at a speed of approximately 70 miles per hour on this narrow, unlit residential street," the complaint states.
Couch's "blood alcohol content was an incredibly high .24 g/dL - three times the legal limit of .08 g/dL," the complaint adds.
As he sped down the "narrow, unlit residential street," Couch smashed into a stopped car and four good Samaritans who had stopped to help the driver fix a flat tire. All four good Samaritans were killed.
Molina was "hurled from the truck and landed on his head."
"It is believed that Couch will be charged with four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two or more counts of intoxication assault," the complaint states.
Sergio Molina has been in a coma since the accident. His parents have incurred more than $600,000 in medical expenses and Sergio has undergone numerous brain and skull surgeries. He is still in a vegetative state and total expenses may surpass $10 million, particularly if he requires lifelong care, his parents say.
They seek punitive damages for negligence, negligent entrustment, recklessness and other charges. They are represented by William Berenson of Fort Worth.