Texas Teen Disabled In DWI-Related Crash Wins $2M Settlement

Ethan Couch (File)

FORT WORTH (May 6, 2014) The family of a North Texas teenager left disabled in a drunken-driving wreck has reached a $2 million settlement with the family of the teenager responsible for the crash that left four dead and 12 injured.

Ethan Couch was sentenced to 10 years’ probation in December 2013 after pleading guilty to four counts of intoxication manslaughter and to probation again in February after Couch pleaded guilty to intoxication assault charges related to two severely injured survivors of the June 2013 crash.

Couch's case drew national attention after his attorneys argued that his wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility, which one witness termed "affluenza."

Tarrant County court documents show that the liability insurer of Couch's parents agreed to pay more than $1 million in cash to a trust established for Sergio E. Molina, and that the Couches' insurer also will buy two annuities to make payments to the trust.

Five other families of the injured or killed have settled with the Couches, pending court approval.

One family is seeking a jury trial.

Authorities said the teen and friends were seen on surveillance video stealing two cases of beer from a store before the June 15, 2013 crash in southern Tarrant County.

On a rural road near Burleson, the teen's pickup truck slammed into four pedestrians, killing youth pastor Brian Jennings, 43, Breanna Mitchell, 24, Shelby Boyles, 21, and her mother, Hollie Boyles, 52.

Jennings, the youth pastor at Alsbury Baptist Church in Burleson, had attended a graduation party for one of his three children and was headed back to the church when he stopped after spotting the disabled SUV in which the three women had been riding and stopped to help.

The boy had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 percent, or three times the legal limit for drivers 21 and older and was driving as fast as 70 miles per hour at the time of the crash, authorities said.

Defense attorneys said the teen needed treatment, not incarceration.