Austin Teen Dies in Fiery Car Crash

The police have identified the teenager who died in a fatal traffic accident in the 10500 block of Interstate 35 on July 28, 2020. Austin Police identified the 17-year-old as Alejandro Huerta Hernandez. He was the only person in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

When police officers arrived at the crash scene at about 11:50 p.m., they discovered a single-vehicle crash involving a green 2005 Honda Accord, just south of Braker Lane. The vehicle appeared to travel through the median after leaving the east side of the road. The vehicle then crashed into a highway sign with a cement base.

An officer responding to the car accident attempted to get Hernandez out of the vehicle. Hernandez was unresponsive, and the driver door would not open. The officer smashed the rear driver’s side window to try to get the teenager out of the vehicle as the fire spread to the passenger side of the car.

The Austin Fire Department arrived on the scene. Emergency responders were able to pry open the passenger door to get Hernandez out of the vehicle as firefighters continued to fight the fire. Firefights and Austin-Travis County EMS medics worked on Hernandez after carrying him away from the burning vehicle.

Even though life-saving measures were used, the teenager died at the accident scene. He was pronounced dead just after midnight.

Another Fiery Crash on I-35 Claimed Two More Lives

Just four days before, another fiery crash on Interstate 35 near Buda resulted in two deaths. The Austin Police Department responded to a crash in the 13700 block of South Interstate 35. The crash occurred just after midnight on July 24, 2020.

According to reports, 27-year-old Jose Martin Zamarripa, Jr. was driving a 2017 Nissan Altima the wrong way in the northbound lanes of the interstate. Forty-seven-year old Brian Allen Tucker was driving a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado in the correct direction.

Zamarripa’s vehicle collided with Tucker’s vehicle causing Trucker’s Silverado and the trailer it was pulling to erupt in flames. Tucker was ejected from the truck during the collision. A female passenger in the truck was able to escape the vehicle before it caught fire with the help of an off-duty University of Texas police officer.

Zamarripa was also ejected from his vehicle during the collision. Both men were declared dead at the accident scene. The female passenger was taken to an area hospital with critical injuries.

Traffic Fatalities Increasing in Austin

The death of Alejandro Huerta Hernandez was the 53rd traffic fatality in Austin this year. It was the 48th fatal traffic accident of 2020. According to police, at this time last year, there had been 46 traffic deaths in Austin.

Nationwide, there has been a decrease in the number of traffic fatalities for three years in a row. According to preliminary data for 2019, the number of traffic deaths decreased by 1.2 percent from the number of traffic fatalities in 2018.

The reasons for a higher number of traffic deaths in Austin this year compared to the same period last year are unknown. Dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, driving under the influence, distractions, and aggressive driving continue to be common factors in fatal car crashes.

Wrongful Death Claims and Traffic Fatalities

When a driver causes a fatal car accident, the driver may face criminal charges for the death of another person. However, criminal charges are not the only consequence of a fatal car accident.

An at-fault driver can be liable in civil court in a wrongful death lawsuit. Texas wrongful death laws permit surviving family members to file a civil lawsuit against the driver for damages and losses. In most cases, the surviving spouse, children, or parents have the right to file a wrongful death action.

If a person did not have a surviving parent, spouse, or child, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate could file a wrongful death claim.

Family members may be entitled to compensation for:

  • The cost of the funeral and burial
  • Cost of medical care from the time of the injury through death
  • Loss of income the person would have contributed to the family
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of the value of the services the person would have provided for the family
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of guidance, support, love, training, and companionship

If the at-fault driver was grossly negligent, the court might also award punitive damages. Punitive damages are rare but may be awarded in fatal car accidents involving DUI.

In most cases, family members have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Because there are exceptions to the rule, it can be best to speak with a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.