Driver, bar sued in deaths of 2 children in I-20 wreck

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 29, 2000

The family of two Texas children killed on Interstate 20 here in July has filed a lawsuit against the man charged in their deaths and a Jackson bar they say served the man alcohol that night.

In the case filed in Warren County Circuit Court, Maria I. Olivares and Juan A. Tarango, parents of Thalia Tarango, 11, and her 6-year-old brother, Anthony Tarango, are seeking monetary damages from David Drew Porter.

Police reports from July 2 say that the children died about 2 a.m. when a truck driven by Porter hit the van that had been pulled off I-20’s westbound lanes. Since the day after, two floral stands have marked the spot.

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The children, their mother, aunt, uncle and two cousins were on their way home to Tyler, Texas, after a family vacation in Atlanta. The children were in the rear section of the van where the impact occurred.

The lawsuit filed by Vicksburg attorney Travis T. Vance Jr. and Jackson attorney James W. Nobles Jr., also charges that employees at George Street Grocery in Jackson continued to serve Porter alcohol after he was intoxicated. Also plaintiff’s in the suit against Porter and the bar, are the aunt and uncle of the Tarango children.

The 32-year-old Porter was released from jail July 6 on a $100,000 first-offender bond. Porter’s attorney reportedly requested the first offender bond so that money would be available to the victims’ family.

Under a first-offender bond, if Porter appears in court when scheduled, $10,000 of the set $100,000 bond, will be returned to him.

The lawsuit states that Porter “was driving his Dodge Pickup Truck while under the influence of intoxicating alcoholic beverages and was intoxicated and impaired as a result of said alcoholic beverages at the time of the wreck.”

The District Attorney’s Office would not release the results of Porter’s blood alcohol test.

The suit, which is one side of a legal argument, alleges that the George Street Grocery owned by O&W Enterprises, “continued to serve David Drew Porter numerous beers and alcoholic beverages at a time when David Drew Porter was visibly intoxicated and impaired.”

Porter was at the bar for three or more hours, according to court papers filed Wednesday afternoon.

The families are asking for $10,500 for medical expenses and punitive damages in an amount within the court’s jurisdiction.

Porter’s criminal case is expected to be presented Oct. 16 to the Warren County grand jury. If indicted on two counts of manslaughter he faces a possible sentence of 40 years for both counts.