Bar may be facing charges in fatal crash
NASHUA – The bar where Daniel Rodriguez and Michael Gorsuch watched the World Series before their fatal crash will likely be charged with over-serving both men, a state Liquor Commission official said Tuesday.
Rodriguez was killed when his Scion tC spun into some trees along Thornton Road at about 12:30 a.m. Oct. 29, 2007. Experts estimated the car was speeding at more than double the posted 30 mph limit when it began to swerve out of control.
The crash took place minutes after Rodriguez, 27, and Gorsuch, then 29, had left Sky Lounge, where their bar tab recorded two pounds of chicken wings, 14 Bud Lights and 8 “bombs,” a mixed drink.
Other patrons later told police the two men had seemed jovial, but not overly rowdy while watching the Red Sox clinch the World Series championship.
The Liquor Commission’s Bureau of Enforcement investigation into the incident is “just about complete,” Deputy Chief Scott Dunn said Tuesday, and Dunn said he expects Sky Lounge will be cited for over-serving both men.
Sky Lounge could face a liquor license suspension and fines, or it could lose its liquor license entirely, Dunn said. The bar has only one prior violation, a $250 fine for improperly advertising drink specials, he said.
“We anticipate that the establishment will be cited,” Dunn said, though he declined to speculate what penalty the Enforcement Bureau might seek.
Sky Lounge general manager Mike Fedell declined to comment on the case Tuesday.
Liquor enforcement agents work closely with police, and typically wait until any criminal prosecution has ended before wrapping up their own investigation into a case, Dunn said.
“Some of the information doesn’t come out to us until after the criminal proceedings are done,” he said.
Gorsuch was charged with negligent homicide after the Oct. 29, 2007, crash on Thornton Road, but was later cleared after an investigator hired by Gorsuch showed that Rodriguez had been driving his own car. Prosecutors dropped Gorsuch’s charge Jan. 22, court records show.
Violations on web
In any case of suspected over-serving, liquor investigators also look into whether patrons had been drinking elsewhere, too, Dunn said.
“Given the amount of alcohol that was consumed there by the two,” however, he said, “it would lead one to believe that was almost irrelevant.”
Gorsuch told police that he and Rodriguez stopped at a 7-Elevan on their way from Rodriguez’ home to the bar, about half a mile away. Gorsuch said he’d been drinking heavily, while Rodriguez was more restrained.
Gorsuch’s blood alcohol level was measured at .14 percent after the crash, according to records released by prosecutors. Prosecutors refused to release any of Rodriguez’ medical records, including results of his blood test, citing federal privacy laws.
In addition to Liquor Enforcement action, it is common for bars to face lawsuits when someone is injured as a result of a drunken-driving accident. No suits have been filed against Sky Lounge in the local superior court, however, court staff said.
Once Liquor Enforcement issues a citation, an official will meet with the license holder and lawyer to see whether they can agree to settle the matter, Dunn said. If not, the case is scheduled for a hearing before the Liquor Commission.