An Arlington man is accused of reaching for his breathalyzer when his pickup truck crashed into the vehicle of an 18-year-old woman and killed her as she backed out of the driveway of a home in early November.
The Arlington Police Department arrested 31-year-old Blake Austin Cowan on Friday, Dec. 15, and charged him with manslaughter in the death of Alexis Butler.
According to an arrest affidavit obtained from the Arlington police, the fatal crash occurred on Nov. 10 at 6:20 p.m.
The affidavit states that Cowan was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado in the 3700 block of Redstone Drive at nearly twice the posted speed limit as he was traveling eastbound. The posted speed limit on the street is 30 mph, and an investigation into the crash revealed that Cowan was accelerating at almost full speed up until a split second before the crash.
Butler, who was driving a 2016 Toyota Camry, appeared to have been reversing out a private driveway on Redstone Drive.
Police believe that Butler had been traveling westbound in the 3700 block of Redstone and had missed a turn, causing her to pull into the private driveway to turnaround. She was headed to a home in the 3400 block of Heatherbrook Drive that was about 500 feet away from where the crash occurred.
When Cowan was interviewed by police right after the crash he stated that he had been blowing into his breathalyzer prior to the impact and had just looked up when the crash occurred. He was not arrested at that time, but was brought in for additional questioning by police on Nov. 22.
In a recorded interview with his attorney present, Cowan said that he had been alerted by his interlock device that a sample was required. He said he took a breath sample while traveling eastbound on Gentle Springs Road and completed the process of taking the sample while sitting at a stop sign at Gentle Springs Road and Park Springs Road. That location is approximately 643 feet from where the accident occurred in the 3700 block of Redstone Drive.
Once he finished providing the sample into the breathalyzer, he placed it in his ashtray to be able to access it quickly. As he accelerated through the intersection, the breathalyzer fell onto the floorboard of the truck. He said he bent down to get the breathalyzer from the floorboard and was not able to see the roadway.
He said when he turned his attention back to the roadway, about a half second before impact, he noticed Butler's vehicle sitting across both lanes of traffic and was unable to avoid the collision.
The affidavit states that although Butler was wearing a seat belt and the equipped front airbags deployed, her vehicle was hit with such force she sustained significant injuries. Butler died from her injuries at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at a local hospital.
While the affidavit states that the street had no shoulders and was poorly lit, crash test results showed that if Cowan had not been distracted and driving the posted speed limit, he would have seen Butler's vehicle sitting in the roadway as he came out of the curve. The analysis said that he would have been able to safely stop or avoid collision with Butler's vehicle by 221 feet.
According to Tarrant County jail records, Cowan had been arrested for driving while intoxicated twice in 2016, first on Jan. 10 and then on March 19 with a blood alcohol level of 0.15.
Tarrant County jail records also show that paperwork was filed on Feb. 16, 2017, for Cowan to be issued a breathalyzer for his March 2016 arrest.
Arlington police spokesman Christopher Cook said that Cowan was issued a $50,000 bond for the manslaughter charge and has already posted bond and been released.
No additional details on the case have been made available at this time.