Local bar faces citation after fatal car crash
Business allegedly served woman before collisionSep. 28, 2013
Written by Jona Ison
Gazette Staff Write
CHILLICOTHE — A local bar has been cited for allegedly selling alcohol to the driver in a July 4 crash that killed a local attorney.
The Ohio Investigative Unit has cited Jerry’s Pizza West with sale of alcohol to an intoxicated person in relation to the crash that killed 36-year-old Annie Rooney.
Charges are pending in the crash, but an Ohio Highway Patrol report alleges that Shira Seymour, 36, had a blood alcohol content of 0.19 when she crashed her SUV head-on into Rooney’s SUV on U.S. 50. The patrol report alleges Seymour had told the trooper she had “plenty” to drink and told the trooper “yes” when he asked if she had been at Jerry’s.
Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt said the question was prompted by a receipt found inside Seymour’s vehicle and that the patrol initiated the trace back investigation.
Jerry’s owner, Tom Howison, could not be reached for comment Friday or Saturday.
Jerry’s West is on Star Drive, about three miles from the site of the crash and the area where an off-duty Chillicothe police sergeant stopped following a suspected intoxicated driver just minutes before the crash. According to radio traffic between Chillicothe and highway patrol dispatchers, the sergeant apparently first spotted the driver further east of Jerry’s since he had reported seeing the vehicle pass through at least three red lights without stopping.
The patrol’s internal investigation into whether the patrol dispatcher attempted to dispatch anyone after being notified of the reckless driver remains pending.
The administrative citation, delivered to Jerry’s on Sept. 20, was part of an initiative by the Ohio Investigative Unit to trace back the source of alcohol in serious and fatal crashes, said Agent Eric Wolf, of the Ohio Investigative Unit.
The citation was forwarded to the Liquor Control Commission for their review. Factors of the case and history of the permit holder will be considered in determining penalties, which could range from a fine to revocation of the business’ liquor license, Wolf said.
Walt Rooney, Annie’s brother, said the family feels it’s “very important and very positive” that all angles of the crash are being investigated and pursued.
No other businesses have been cited from the trace back investigation, and misdemeanor criminal charges against the server are unlikely at this point, Schmidt said.
“I don’t anticipate misdemeanor charges filed on the server. We want to call her as a witness,” he said.
Schmidt has discussed the case with law director Sherri Rutherford, who was contacted by the investigative unit about filing a charge against the server. Rutherford’s office prosecutes misdemeanor charges in Chillicothe and Ross County, while Schmidt’s office oversees felony cases.
Jessie Balmert contributed to this report.