KGUN 9 On Your SideNews


Families sue two bars over four DUI deaths

Posted at 8:34 AM, Jul 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-22 20:15:07-04

Families are suing two Fourth Avenue bars over 2015 DUI incidents that left four people dead.

According to legal documents filed at Pima County Superior Court, families of 25-year-old Alexandria Lara, 26-year-old Martin Verdugo, 28-year-old Sheyla Velarde and Lara's unborn child died in July 2015 when they died in a car driven by Jesus Olea, who hit a tree after drinking at O'Malley's, 247 N. Fourth and Che's Lounge, 250 N. Fourth.

Olea's blood alcohol level was 0.18. The legal limit is 0.08. He was treated fot life-threatening injuries but recovered. He now faces four counts of felony manslaughter and two felony DUIs and will next appear in court in August.

The families -- led by Marco Velarde, Rosa Velarde and Denise Lara -- are arguing that the bars were negligent because they failed to exercise reasonable care in the sale of alcohol. They are seeking damages and attorney fees.

Arizona law mandates bartenders not over-serve any customers.
"As a bartender you're responsible for identifying when somebody is approaching the point when they've had a little too much to drink," Pasco Kitchen & Lounge bartender Alfredo Aguilar said. "And at that point, you have a legal obligation to cut that person off and not over-serve them."
KGUN 9 reached out to O'Malley's and Che's Lounge. O'Malley's declined to comment and Che's Lounge couldn't be reached. 
Aguilar explained that once a person is in the bar -- they become that bar's responsibility. It's up to that bar to make sure they do not get too drunk.
"There's no way to prove how much that person drank at each establishment," Aguilar said. "In that case, the bartender has an obligation to observe customers that come into the bar and not over-serve. If you observe that a person has had too much to drink or even if they're on that line, you have a moral obligation to not serve that person."