Prosecutors dropped a felony charge Tuesday against a Vinson & Elkins practice leader who authorities said abandoned injured passengers after a boating accident on Lake Travis last year.
Authorities said that Douglass McWilliams, head of the equity capital markets practice at Vinson & Elkins in Houston, was at the helm of a boat that crashed into a sandbar on the Austin lake. According to the Austin American-Statesman, McWilliams told his injured passengers that he was going to get help. When McWilliams wasn’t seen for several hours, authorities initiated a search of the water that included the use of an Austin police helicopter, according to the Statesman.
Authorities later charged McWilliams with leaving the scene of a crash, a felony in Texas. But McWilliams’ attorney, Austin criminal defense lawyer Brian Roark of Botsford & Roark, disputed that account and said that leaving to get help after an accident is ”specifically allowed under Texas law.”
The statement provided by Roark to The American Lawyer last year notes that McWilliams had turned off his boat while it was still running after the crash and evaluated the injuries of his passengers. After being told that there was difficulty in getting a signal to call 911, McWilliams, despite having suffered a dislocated shoulder, left the scene to go find help, according to Roark’s account, which noted that the Vinson & Elkins partner had left his cellphone at home.
In an emailed statement to Texas Lawyer following the dismissal of the charges, Roark said: “The Travis County District Attorney’s Office has recently completed their review of the facts surrounding the accident and the attempt of a Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden to obtain a warrant without approval and based on misleading statements, and leak it to the press. They concluded that the evidence required that the case be dismissed and the dismissal paperwork was recently filed and signed by a Travis County District Judge. The dismissal lists the reason as ‘in the interests of justice,’ thereby clearing Mr. McWilliams of the false allegation of the Game Warden. Mr. McWilliams would like to thank the prosecutors in Ms. Moore’s office for their work and professionalism during this trying time for all involved.”
Matthew Foye, the prosecutor overseeing the case, told the Austin American-Statesman that after a review of the information, he concluded dismissal was appropriate.