Originally published February 8 2014
Two bartenders charged with serving alcohol to drunk man who later died
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) A pair of Tulsa, Oklahoma, bartenders are in hot water with the law after an intoxicated man they were serving was hit and killed by two different drivers as he was walking home last fall.
News On 6, a local television station, reports that the drivers who struck Sammy Ford were not charged with his death; instead, the bartenders were charged with serving alcohol to an intoxicated person, a felony in the state:
"Neither of the servers has a criminal record and they told investigators they didn't feel Sammy was intoxicated when he left by himself that night," the station reported.
Ford, according to reports, was a helicopter pilot for the Oklahoma National Guard and for a local air ambulance company. The station report said he was 48 years old when he was killed on Sept. 6, 2013:
Investigators said he was so drunk when he left a Brookside bar around 1 a.m. that he fell and was actually crawling across Peoria [Street].
They said he made it to the middle of the street when he tried to stand and the first car hit him. That 18-year-old driver, got scared, drove home and told her parents, who called police.
The second driver, stayed, but Sammy Ford didn't make it.
'You have to stop serving'
State officials maintain that charging the bartenders is a good call.
"When we [got] the toxicology report back from the ME's office, it was .30, four times the legal limit," said Erik Smoot, an official with the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement division.
Police investigating the death said that , according to bar receipts, Ford had purchased six Miller Lite beers and three additional alcoholic drinks. They added that, according to state law, it is up to the bartender to know when someone is too drunk to continue buying alcohol and to then inform them and cut the patron off (which has a tendency to not go well with a drunk person who is wanting to buy another round).
"For your safety, for our safety, for the safety of the general public, to keep everyone safe, you have to stop," Smoot said.
Per the station's report, the servers on the night in question were locals Cheryl Wright and Lindsay Lockhart. They said they knew Ford - he was a regular at their establishment - and knew that he walked to the bar and back home on nights he came in.
Rob Nigh, an attorney for Lockhart, said it is obvious when a person is drunk and that, indeed, servers have the responsibility to discontinue serving them. But, he added, for people who drink, they too have a responsibility to know how much they have had and what kind of an effect it has had on them.
Breathalyzers in bars?
"We can't place that responsibility on someone who may not know our characteristics or doesn't know what our tolerance level might be," Nigh said.
He also said that sometimes bad things just happen, but that doesn't mean that someone should be charged in every instance. He added that his client, who works for her family's business, is torn up about the ordeal.
"Trying to do the right thing, trying to be a responsible citizen, no criminal record whatsoever and for a young girl in her position, it's a terrifying situation," said Nigh.
The station reported that a number of police have said alcohol-related deaths are getting out of hand and that the law in Oklahoma sends a signal to all servers. But then again, lots of people are wondering how bartenders are actually supposed to know who is and is not intoxicated, outside of the obvious mouthy, falling-down drunk, short of putting breathalyzers in bars.
Not that that would go over.
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