Burleson minister’s wife sues parents of teen driver accused in fatal wreck

Posted Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The wife of a Burleson youth minister filed a wrongful death suit Tuesday against the parents of a teenager who authorities say was driving a pickup that hit her husband and three other people on a dark road in southern Tarrant County in June.

Shaunna Jennings is suing Fred and Tanya Couch, the parents of the 16-year-old pickup driver. A family-owned business, Cleburne Metal Works, is also named in the suit.

Her husband, Brian Jennings, had stopped to help a stranded motorist shortly after leaving his son’s graduation party June 15.

Investigators have said that they believe that the 16-year-old had been drinking with other teens when he got behind the wheel of an F350 pickup that was owned by his father’s company. Seven other teens were riding in the pickup, two in the bed.

About 11:45 p.m. in the 1500 block of Burleson-Retta Road, the speeding pickup left the road, clipped a stranded sport utility vehicle and smashed into the SUV’s driver and three people who were trying to help her.

The impact flung the four people 50 to 60 yards, authorities reported. In addition to Jennings, those killed were the SUV driver, Breanna Mitchell, 24, of Lillian; and Hollie Boyles, 52, and her daughter, Shelby Boyles, 21, who had come from their house nearby to help.

The red pickup then hit Jennings’ parked Silverado pickup with two boys inside. The red pickup went airborne, flipped and crashed into a tree.

The 16-year-old was driving with a restricted license, which required him to have a passenger who is at least 21 years old in the front seat, according to Shaunna Jennings’ suit.

The suit also states that the teen was convicted of being a minor in possession of alcohol when he was 15.

The teen driver’s parents have already been sued by the parents of Sergio E. Molina, who was riding in the bed of the red pickup. Molina flew out and landed on his head. He remains in a coma, that lawsuit says.

Burton Baker and Greg Coontz, attorneys representing Shaunna Jennings, said in an emailed statement that the death of Brian Jennings was “foreseeable and preventable.”

Coontz also said that the 16-year-old was driving more than 70 mph in a 40-mph zone and had a blood alcohol level of 0.24, three times the legal limit.

Randy Nelson, an attorney from Dallas who is representing the Couch family, said in an email statement: “This accident was a horrible tragedy for all concerned. I can assure you my clients are heartbroken at the pain that the families involved have suffered.”

The suit says that Fred and Tanya Couch were negligent in allowing their son to drive the company truck. Shaunna Jennings is also seeking damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish and the loss of her husband and the father of their children.

Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696 Twitter: @fwstliz

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