FORT WORTH, Texas — The 16-year-old driver in an accident that left four dead last month had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit at the time of the crash, Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said at a news conference Tuesday.
Ethan Couch, 16, was driving a pickup truck between 68-to-70 miles per hour with seven teen passengers when he hit a SUV with a flat tire on June 15.
"The driver of the Ford pickup [...] came back with a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit in Texas," Anderson said.
The legal limit for those 21 and older is 0.08. The speed limit where the accident occurred is 40 miles per hour.
Jennings had stopped his car to help Mitchell with the flat tire, and the mother and daughter had come out of their home to help.
Anderson said the fatal accident was one of the most difficult his department has ever had to investigate. He said it was "shocking" no one else lost their lives.
"You had eight eight people in the pickup truck," Anderson said. "None of them were wearing seatbelts, and two of them were in the bed of the pickup. The truck completely flipped over."
According to the sheriff, the teens in the pickup were seen on surveillance tape stealing two cases of beer from a Burleson Walmart an hour before the wreck, and police believe the teens had been drinking before that.
WFAA learned last month Couch had two prior alcohol violations in February for possessing and consuming alcohol. He pleaded no contest in both of those cases.
Tarrant County prosecutors will file charges in a juvenile court. "We have not yet received all of the information necessary for us to properly prepare our case," said District Attorney Joe Shannon in a written statement. "We will not sacrifice accuracy and fairness for speed."
Shannon added that he would not speculate on when and what charges would be filed.
Because of Couch's age, the case will start in the juvenile system, but prosecutors can ask to certify the minor as an adult.
One legal expert told WFAA the DA's office will look at every option available.
"I guarantee you, they are going to prosecute him to the fullest," said former Tarrant County juvenile prosecutor, Trent Loftin. "An individual, three times the legal limit, they are going to throw the book at this kid."