A deadly crash involving a private ambulance killed one and injured four near Cypresswood Drive and TC Jester Boulevard in Harris County late Friday night. According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, the ambulance was transporting a woman for a non-emergency issue when the accident occurred.
At approximately 11:13 p.m., the ambulance was traveling westbound on Cypresswood Drive when a 2013 Toyota Corolla travelling southbound on TC Jester allegedly ran a red light and crashed into the ambulance as it entered the intersection.
The impact caused the ambulance to flip onto its side and roll over until it came to a stop. The patient, Shirley Ogletree, was taken to the hospital, where she died from her injuries. Two EMTs were taken also to the hospital, as well as a passenger of the Toyota and the driver, who was extricated from the car.
An investigation is underway to determine if intoxication or speed were factors in the crash.
Aggravated DWI penalties
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas carries stiff sentences, even for first offenders. But when someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of an accident involving a DWI, the penalties become much more severe. Two charges that can result from a tragic accident are:
- Intoxication assault, Penal Code 49.07, in which an individual commits an offense unintentionally while operating a motor vehicle on a public road, causing serious bodily injury with a substantial risk of death, disfigurement or loss or impairment of function.
- Intoxication manslaughter, § 49.08 in which the accused caused the death of another while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. This is distinct from vehicular manslaughter, in which the accused acted recklessly.
There are enhanced penalties for each. Intoxicated assault is a third-degree felony with two to ten years in state prison, while manslaughter is a second-degree felony carrying a sentence of two to twenty years in state prison with fines of up to $10,000.
Fighting the charges
Although prosecutors will probably seek the maximum sentence, it is possible to fight the charges. The defendant can challenge the accuracy of the breath or chemical test, and the bar is very high for proving that your intoxication specifically caused the death of another in the accident. With a skilled and aggressive criminal defense lawyer at your side, you can develop a strong defense strategy that may reduce sentencing or dismiss some charges.