Under Influence of Alcohol and Prescription Medications
The fatal crash happened in the northbound lanes of Interstate 35 South at around 2:49 a.m. Officials say 49-year-old Richard Sanchez was driving south in the northbound lanes through the 11700 block of the interstate, doing so for nearly three miles. During his wrong-way journey, Sanchez crashed into several vehicles, causing one to burst into flames and trap other occupants inside their vehicles.
A passenger van carrying 18-year-old Miguel Hernandez was then struck by Sanchez’s pickup truck, causing it to drive into the median and strike the cable barrier. Hernandez was treated at University Hospital with severe head injuries. Sadly, the young man would later succumb to his injuries. According to the San Antonio Express-News, investigators estimated that ten people were hospitalized in the ordeal, several of which were critically injured.
The San Antonio Express-News reports that Sanchez showed signs of intoxication when approached by police officers. In addition, the alleged drunk driver was wearing a neon wristband commonly used at bars and clubs. Sanchez told police he was on depression and anxiety medications as well.
Sanchez faces an intoxication manslaughter charge and three intoxication assault charges, reports the San Antonio Express-News.
Hernandez, a student at South Cobb High School, suffered from muscular dystrophy, a hereditary disease that leads to weakening muscles, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He and his family were returning to Atlanta when the tragic accident occurred. The Hernandez family had just spent the holidays with relatives in Mexico.
Alcohol-impaired Driving Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28 people die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver every day. In addition,
- The cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion each year.
- In 2014, 9,967 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.
- This accounts for 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.
- Sixteen percent of motor vehicle crashes involve drugs (legal or illegal) other than alcohol.