On Saturday, April 18, one Chanton Jenkins was driving in heavy rain on a Texas road. He had seven passengers in his Lincoln sedan – his brother, four of his children, and two other children.
According to his brother’s statement, Jenkins answered a cell phone call from his girl friend, conducted a conversation and then as he hung up, lost control of the car. According to another news report, he lost control while he was still talking on the phone, and dropped it as the car veered off the road.
The Lincoln tumbled down an embankment into a deep ditch full of rain water. Jenkins, his brother, and his ten-year-old daughter escaped from the car. Two hours later, rescue workers found it and tried to extract the remaining passengers.
Four Children Dead, One Missing
The car by then was under about nine feet of water and three of the five children were still inside it, drowned. They were aged eleven, seven, and three. None of them was buckled in. Rescuers found the body of the one-year-old child about half a mile from the crash. The fifth child, aged four, has not yet been found. Volunteers on foot and in 4-wheel vehicles have searched about six miles on the banks of the bayou, which is thick with weeds, and the search is continuing today.
Houston police are planning to charge Jenkins with four counts of intoxication manslaughter, as his blood alcohol level was found to be 0.079 and 0.082 in two breath tests done 2.5 hours after the accident. The legal limit is 0.08 percent.
During a probable cause hearing held yesterday, April 20, Jenkins told the judge that he would be hiring his own lawyer. He was held until the next hearing, which is scheduled for today in a state district court. If Jenkins is convicted on all four counts, he faces up to 80 years in prison. Each charge also carries a fine of up to $10,000.
Child Protective Services will be investigating the deaths of all the children and also the home life of the ten-year-old girl who survived.
This fatal car accident involved both alcohol and cell phone use. Drinking and driving is illegal if the alcohol saturates the blood up to 0.08 percent. Cell phone use and driving is legal, although many would like to make it illegal. A distracted driver can cause a serious car accident just as easily as a drunk driver can.
If you have been badly injured in an automobile accident, or any other type of motor vehicle accident, please contact our car accident attorneys today for a free case evaluation.