TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Jersey Shore bar will lose its liquor license for 30 days, after allegedly over-serving an intoxicated patron who died in a motor vehicle crash that also left another woman seriously injured.
Under a settlement with the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control, Martell’s Tiki Bar in Point Pleasant Beach will not be allowed to serve alcohol from Sept. 28 to Oct. 28 and must pay a $500,000 fine.
The bar’s staff will be required to undergo training in safe service of alcohol for as long as the current owners hold an interest in the liquor license.
Martell’s had pleaded “no contest” to a charge of serving alcohol to an intoxicated person.
Police said 26-year-old Ashley Cheico of Wood-Ridge drove away from Martell’s in 2013 and crashed head-on into another vehicle on Route 18 in Old Bridge, killing herself and injuring the other driver, Dana Corrar.
“I had angels in that car that evening,” Corrar told CSB2’s Christine Sloan.
Cheico was headed the wrong way down Route 18 when she plowed into Corrar’s vehicle, police said.
“I don’t remember the crash,’ Corrar said. “I don’t remember the impact.”
But 911 calls captured the terrifying moment.
“Air bags are gone. People are unconscious,” a first responder was captured saying at the scene. “It’s really a bad scene over there.”
Corrar said she remains shaken to this day.
“I still think: ‘God, that was me? That happened to me?’” she said. “I always had a fear of a head on collision – always.”
Corrar was taken to the hospital with two broken legs and smashed up ribs. Nearly two years later, she still walks with a cane.
Police said Cheico had been drinking at Martell’s before she drove off not in her own car, but in someone else’s – parked in the bar’s lot with the keys still inside.
“There can be deadly consequences when alcohol and driving are mixed, so it is vitally important that establishments that serve alcohol, do so responsibly,” said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “It is unlawful in this state to serve alcohol to a person who is actually or apparently intoxicated and the repercussions of not abiding by the law have been brought to bear in this tragic case.”
Corrar filed a lawsuit against the bar in November 2013, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She suffered severe trauma, underwent numerous surgeries and had to live in an assisted living center after the crash. Her lawyers said the bar failed to monitor the situation, which caused unreasonable risk of harm to the public.
The lawsuit remains unresolved.
“I don’t understand why they can take the responsibility for that, but their insurance company right now is not taking responsibility for my case, and they have not even offered a penny,” Corrar said.
Corrar’s attorney said a state statute said bars should not continue serving someone visibly intoxicated. He said Cheico might as well have had a gun.
“So the bar gives her, Ashley, a gun,” said attorney Paul Edelstein. “They load her up with alcohol, and then on the way out, they give her a box of bullets.”
CBS2 tried to get comment from Martell’s, only to for a staffer to refuse to comment and say, “Please exit.”
Two attorneys representing the bar also did not call CBS2 back.
From the parking lot in front of Martell’s, it is a 30-minute drive to the scene of the accident. Still, many people who frequent the bar said they do not understand how Martell’s can be held responsible.”
“It should be up to the person to decide,” said Alex Moscov of Point Pleasant. “If they’re there with friends, they should shut them off the establishment. It’s so hard in the summer situation because it’s so many people.”
Corrar had a warning to anyone who might drink and drive.
“Don’t do it. Don’t do it,” she said, “because you’re going to shatter somebody’s life.”
To this day, Corrar said she is not angry with the driver who crashed into her, but feels sorry for her parents.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)