HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — A Rio Grande Valley family filed a $20 million lawsuit against SpaceX following the death of a family member after a car crash that happened outside the company’s launch site.
On June 7, 2020, a camping trip to the beach turned into a nightmare for the Venegas family of San Benito.
Rising tides forced the family of five to leave Boca Chica Beach at around 4 a.m.
As they drove on Highway 4, they crashed into an 18-wheeler that was stalled outside the SpaceX facility, resulting in the death of husband and father, Carlos Javier Venegas, 35.
Venegas’ wife, Lucienne Venegas, and three children, who are minors, suffered injuries to their spines and legs.
The autopsy reported Venegas’ cause of death was “blunt force trauma caused by a motor vehicle accident.”
The family is suing SpaceX for $20 million in damages, claiming that this was not an accident, but gross negligence on SpaceX’s behalf.
The Buzbee Law Firm is representing Venegas’ wife, his estate and their three minor children.
Attorneys for the Venegas family state that SpaceX failed to equip and update the highway to account for the heavy-duty and constant use, according to the court documents.
The attorneys said that SpaceX should have added adequate lighting, warnings, and procedures to direct obstructive third-party delivery vehicles, so that beachgoers could travel through the site safely, especially at night.
Furthermore, they said that the burden was on SpaceX, not the local government, to widen the highway to account for the extra traffic load.
In the case of the 18-wheeler that the Venegas family crashed into, the court documents said that the highway was too narrow, dark, and difficult to navigate, and this is likely what caused it to obstruct the highway.
“This was about profits and timing. It was not about safety. [SpaceX was] determined to rush construction and open operations of its massive enterprise in Boca Chica, and it resulted in the death of Mr. Venegas,” wrote the Venegas attorneys.
SpaceX is being represented by Roerig, Oliveira & Fisher, LLP, and they claim that is not the case.
Attorneys claim that it was negligence on Venegas’ part that caused the accident.
They write, Venegas “failed to use the degree of care and caution which would have been exercised by persons of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances, and was, therefore, negligent in the operation in question.”
ValleyCentral has reached out to both parties in this case and will update with additional information once provided with a response. We will provide updates as the case develops.