Relatives of a mother and daughter killed by a teenage drunk driver in July have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the boy, his father and his father’s company. It is the fifth lawsuit filed in connection with the deadly crash.
The driver, 16-year-old Ethan Couch, is scheduled to go on trial Wednesday on four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault, in Judge Jean Boyd’s juvenile court, in the Scott D. Moore Juvenile Justice Center in Fort Worth.
Hollie Boyles, 52, and Shelby Boyles, 21, were killed just before midnight June 15 when a pickup truck driven by Couch plowed into them and two others as they stood on the shoulder of Burleson-Retta Road, trying to help a stranded motorist. The lawsuit, filed by Hollie Boyle’s husband and daughter, Eric Boyles and Marguerite Boyles, seeks actual damages including burial and funeral expenses and punitive damages.
Also killed were Burleson youth minister Brian Jennings, 41, and Breanna Mitchell, 24.
Mitchell had been driving west on Burleson-Retta Road when she had a blow-out, causing her to swerve into the ditch on the north side of the road. Hollie and Shelby Boyles, at their home nearby, heard the blow-out and went out to help Mitchell. Jennings, on his way back from his son’s high school graduation party, also stopped to help.
The four were standing near Mitchell’s SUV when Couch, who Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office investigators estimate was driving his Ford F350 pickup between 65 and 70 mph in a 40 mph speed zone, clipped Mitchell’s vehicle and then hit and killed the four pedestrians.
Couch’s truck then hit Jenning’s pickup truck, in which two young boys were waiting, sending it into the roadway, where it collided with an eastbound Volkswagon carrying two Burleson girls, before going off the south side of the road. Couch’s truck flipped over and landed against a tree on the north side of the road.
Investigators later determined that Couch’s blood-alcohol content at the time of the accident was .24, about three times the legal limit. There were seven other teens in the pickup truck, including two in the truck bed, all of whom were injured to some degree.
The most seriously injured of the teens was Sergio Molina, whose parents were the first to file suit against Couch and his family.
Jennings’ wife, Shaunna, has also filed suit on behalf of herself and her children, as have Mitchell’s mother, Marla Mitchell, and Kevin and Alesia McConnell, whose son was also in Couch’s truck at the time of the crash.
The suit accuses Ethan Couch of driving while intoxicated, driving above the speed limit, failing to control his speed, having more than one person in the truck who was under 21 and not related to him, disregarding a restriction on his driver’s license that he only drive with a licensed adult in the front seat, and being in possession of alcohol even though he was underage.
Ethan Couch’s father, Fred Couch, is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, as is the company he owns Cleburne Metal Works. The trucks is registered to Cleburne Metal Works, and Fred Couch is accused of “gross negligence” for entrusting the pickup to an incompetent or reckless driver.