Its estimated that in Texas 1- in 8 vehicles on the road are not covered by insurance. A couple from Leander knows how devastating encountering an uninsured driver can be. In a 7 on your side report- FOX7's Rudy Koski found out why police allowed the uninsured motorist to drive and what's now being done to hold him accountable.
By looking at the crash scene pictures it's understandable why first responders were shocked by what they saw.
"We shouldn't have walked away from the accident," said Jon Bever.
Jon and Debbie Bever survived but are still recovering from that night. It was November 8th, around mid-night, and the couple from Leander was heading home after spending the day in San Antonio. They were driving north on Hwy 281 and had just entered into marble falls when Jon noticed a car behind them in the distance.
"I looked over to her and then looked back in a rear mirror and he was there."
Skid marks are still in the roadway where the collision took place; just before Little Flatrock Creek. A new guardrail is in place where their car went airborne.
"Only thing I remember is telling Deb to hold on hold on," said Jon Bever.
His wife, Debbie said all she was able to do was grab Jon's arm.
"And when we were flipping I just remember, I think were rolling like it was surreal," said Debbie Bever.
When police officer Cory Munoz arrived, the first car to come into view was a white Lincoln Towncar. He would determine it was the car that had forced Jon and Debbie off the highway. The driver, identified as 20 year old Tyrone Dotcie, can be heard on the dash camera audio say he was heading back to Tarleton State University. He also admitted he was at fault.
Officer Munoz: "Can you tell me what happened?
Dotcie: "I thought I seen something cross the road and I stamped on my brakes but my wheels spun out ... like they kept going or whatever and my car kept going and I hit them from behind."
Tyrone Dotcie said he was going about 80 mph at the time. After looking at Dotcie's driver's license, Officer Munoz also asked about car insurance, which is required by state law.
Officer Munoz: "This your insurance right here for your vehicle?
Dotcie: Yes sir. OK."
Officer Munoz then issued Dotcie a citation for failure to control speed and allowed him to leave.
Officer Munoz: "You're free to go, all right. Be safe."
The Bevers had no idea the man who hit them had just disappear into the night.
"Yeah he was just gone, he was just gone, we looked for the car and the car was gone," said Jon Bever.
Later the Bevers got a copy of the accident report and a surprise. The section regarding no financial responsibility was marked. It turns out Tyrone Dotcie did not have insurance after all.
"I think we were let down," said Jon Bever.
Dotcie recently purchased the car he was driving. Chief Mark Whitacre said the paperwork he provided was for a temporary specialty tag. It's unclear how he got one without showing proof of coverage or if he had coverage and let it lapse.
Patrol cars in Marble Falls, unlike those used in Austin, do not have laptops with internet access. Chief Mark Whitacre told FOX 7, typically his officers call dispatch to run checks. But, Munoz, who is a rookie, waited until he got back to the station to confirm the information he was given at the crash scene.
According to city records, in 2013 there were 478 crashes in Marble Falls. Fifteen vehicles involved in those wrecks were not covered by insurance. Chief Whitacre considers that information indicates their town does not have a serious problem with uninsured drivers.
Dallas, Corpus Christi and El Paso are among the few cities in Texas that have passed an ordinance to crack down on uninsured drivers. Police officers have the authority to tow and impound vehicles that do not have coverage. That's not done in Marble Falls. Even if it was, the growing financial burden on Jon and Debbie Bever wouldn't be any easier.
"It's put our life in a tailspin," said Debbie Bever.
Medical bills for Debbie's concussion rehab are piling up. And their own insurance - covering uninsured motorist- wasn't enough to pay off the loan on their totaled SUV.
"We are out quite a bit, and have been and probably will be at this point," said Jon Bever.
The couple has what they think is a simple request regarding Tyrone Dotcicie'
"Want him to be accountable."
Tyrone Dotcie has returned to college. The phone number he gave police no longer works - so I left him a message on his Facebook page. He didn't respond- but, he seems to be moving on with his life. It appears he's even gotten another car- a red Cadillac.
"I mean really, just move on down the road," said Jon Bever.
On the Dash Camera Tyrone Dotcie can be heard asking about the people he hit, but for the Bevers that does not excuse him for what he did.
"He made a choice to drive, without insurance. He made a choice to get behind the wheel. He made the choice to drive out of control and almost took the lives of two individuals and I think there needs to be some accountability there, said Jon Bever.
Some form of justice may be coming. Warrants were issued for Tyrone Dotcie because he failed to show up for his municipal court hearing. An additional citation for not having insurance may now be added.
First-time offenders are subject to a fine of up to $350, plus court costs. Repeat offenders are also subject to a two-year driver license suspension.
Texas has a data base to track uninsured drivers. It's located at: http://texassure.com/