Fourth lawsuit filed against family of teen-age driver in deadly accident

Posted Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A fourth lawsuit has been filed against the parents of a 16-year-old boy who was driving a pickup that slammed into a car on the side of a road in June, killing four people.

Kevin and Alesia McConnell filed suit Wednesday in Tarrant County civil court against Fred and Tanya Couch and Cleburne Metal Works, the family-owned company. Their son is also named in the suit.

The Star-Telegram usually does not name juvenile defendants.

The McConnells’ son, Lucas, was a passenger riding with a well-known Burleson youth minister, Brian Jennings, one of four people killed in the crash. The suit did not give details about Lucas McConnell’s injuries.

Robert Ward, an attorney representing the McConnell family, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Randy Nelson, an attorney for the Couch family, said he has not seen the lawsuit and declined to comment.

According to the lawsuit, Lucas McConnell was a passenger in Jennings’ pickup when the youth minister stopped to help Breanna Mitchell, a stranded motorist, in the 1500 block of Burleson Retta Road around 11:45 p.m. June 15.

Shortly after Jennings got out of his vehicle to help Mitchell, the Ford F350 pickup driven by the teenager clipped Mitchell’s SUV and struck several people including the youth minister. The pickup also collided with Jennings’ vehicle while McConnell was inside.

Mitchell, Jennings, and Hollie and Shelby Boyles, a mother and daughter who came from their nearby home to help, were killed.

“Defendant ... was operating the vehicle in a reckless and negligent manner, in that he was driving at a high rate of speed and he was driving while intoxicated,” the lawsuit states.

The suit also says that the teenager disregarded a restriction on his driver’s license which required that a passenger 21 or older ride in the front passenger seat.

The suit accuses Fred and Tanya Couch of allowing their son to drive even though they knew of his driving restrictions and states that the boy had a prior conviction of possessing alcohol as a minor.

Others who have sued the family are Shaunna Jennings, the wife of the youth minister; Marla Mitchell, whose daughter was killed after her car stalled; and the parents of Sergio Molina, a passenger in the teenager’s pickup who was injured.

The 16-year-old has been charged in Tarrant County juvenile court with four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault.

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

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