Disappointing Grand Jury Decision in ATXHipsters Case

Wade Atwood's case was brought before the Travis County Grand Jury on July 22, 2014.
Wade Atwood

Earlier this week, the Travis County Grand Jury weighed in on the case of Kelly Noel, an Austin blogger known as AtxHipsters who was tragically killed by a drunk driver. Wade Atwood, the driver, was arrested for DWI that night. Our law firm had the honor of representing Kelly’s parent in a civil case related to his wrongful death.

Atwood, depending on the July 22 grand jury decision, stood to face either indictment for intoxication manslaughter or a much less severe charge of misdemeanor. Unfortunately, the Grand Jury cleared Atwood of the more serious charge of intoxication manslaughter and only charged him with driving under the influence, a misdemeanor.

We are very disappointed with this decision. It is simply unacceptable that a drunk driver who kills a pedestrian is let off with a misdemeanor. This is now a pattern with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, who often do not take drunk driving as seriously as they should. We have represented scores of citizens whose lives have been irreparably changed due to drunk driving and we believe our District Attorney needs to prosecute this conduct more stringently.

When we first learned about this tragic case, we discussed the drunk driving problem that our community faces.As this blog notes, Austin’s drinking and driving problem is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. The Loewy Law Firm has seen case after case in which negligence, peer pressure, and lack of personal responsibility have caused horrible injuries and death.

Police Chief Art Acevedo, in an interview following the SxSW killings, said, “tragedy brings opportunity. It’s an opportunity for a gut check … it’s a gut check for the people involved, it’s a gut check for this community.” We fully support the police chief’s efforts to change social and cultural norms surrounding this life-and-death issue.