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Driver Cleared in Border Vehicle Death

EL PASO, Texas (CN) - A driver could not have avoided killing a Mexican man he struck after the man climbed over a border fence and ran from Border Patrol officers, a Texas appeals court ruled.

Jose Lara struck and killed Jesus Reyes Ricardez as he ran along an El Paso highway that parallels the Rio Grande north of Ciudad Juarez. Within seconds, Border Patrol officers arrived in four marked units with flashing signal lights.

Ricardez was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Ricardez's father, Lazaro Reyes Ciguero, sued the driver for negligence, claiming he breached his duties as a driver by speeding.

Lara said accident was unavoidable. He stated in a deposition that though he does not remember how fast he was driving or whether he braked before impact, the collision "happened so quickly that he did not have a chance to do anything to avoid it."

After a hearing, an El Paso County Judge Yvonne Rodriguez granted Lara's motion for no-evidence summary judgment.

In his sole issue on appeal, Ciguero claimed the driver's testimony that he did not remember his speed or braking before impact "created preclusive fact issues on whether Lara breached his duties to drive at a reasonable speed, keep a reasonable lookout, and avoid hitting pedestrians if possible."

But Judge Rodriguez, of Texas' Eighth Court of Appeals, upheld the ruling, finding that Ciguero "failed to furnish more than a scintilla of evidence establishing that the accident could have been avoided."

"Here, we need not decide whether the evidence presented creates fact issues on breach," Rodriguez wrote for a three-judge panel on Jan. 9.

"Even if Lara was speeding or even if his failure to see CBP vehicle lights prior to the collision raised a fact issue on whether he kept a proper lookout, appellant failed to offer more than a scintilla of evidence on proximate cause, i.e. that Lara could have avoided colliding with Ricardez if Lara fulfilled his general duties as a driver."

Rodriguez concluded that the driver's deposition testimony alone "creates no more than surmise or suspicion that any breach of the duty to maintain speed or keep a proper lookout was the proximate cause of the collision. As such, it is no evidence on proximate cause."


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