Bar that served fatal TCNJ crash driver hit with new rules
EWING — The restaurant where the man charged with drunk driving in a December crash that killed a TCNJ student was ordered by state officials Friday to change the way it does business.
Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said David Lamar V told police after the Dec. 2 crash that he had been drinking at Landmark Americana on The College of New Jersey campus.
In addition to the state's new restrictions (which you can read below), the restaurant is facing a lawsuit by the parents of Michael Sot, the 20-year-old student from Clark who died in the crash. The state's dram shop law holds establishments accountable for over-serving patrons who later get into accidents.
Lamar, 22, of West Windsor, crashed head-on into a Dodge Charger driven by Michael Sot, of Clark, in the early morning hours after trying to pass a car on Route 31, prosecutors say.
Prosecutors said Lamar turned down his friend's request to drive even though his blood-alcohol content was three times the legal limit for driving. He's been charged with vehicle homicide and several counts of assault by auto.
Sot, the designated for his friends that evening, died two days later while the other four people in his car suffered a range of injuries to their limbs and vital organs.
In the consent order announced by Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Landmark Americana will curtail its business hours and stop serving drinks in pitchers and buckets.
Lamar said he had two beers, two "twisted teas" and a shot. But investigators say surveillance video shows him also drinking a "fishbowl," a massive cocktail with numerous servings.
The restaurant does not have an ordinary liquor license granted by the municipality. Unlike other bars and restaurants, Landmark Americana has a special permit because it is operating on state property. Its temporary permit has been extended to Jan. 15 when the restrictions take effect. The permit will be renewed on a monthly basis until further notice, state officials said.
The restrictions placed on the restaurant also include:
- Close on or before midnight on Thursday through Saturday, and on or before 10 p.m. the rest of the week.
- Draft and submit a security plan that addresses over-consumption, underage drinking and crowd control.
- Schedule and conduct monthly meetings with the TCNJ police to discuss operations and law enforcement concerns.
- Sell only one alcoholic beverage per patron at a time.
- Maintain the establishment’s existing security cameras in their current locations, store recorded video in an accessible format for a minimum of 45 days, and turn over videos to law enforcement within 48 hours of request.
“When alcohol and driving are mixed, the consequences can be deadly, so it is vitally important that establishments that serve alcohol do so responsibly,” Grewal said. “The restrictions placed on the Landmark Americana will help prevent excessive drinking and other unsafe behaviors that can lead to tragedy.”'
Lamar was released by Superior Court Judge Anthony M. Massi pending trial. He must surrender his license and is confined to home detention with electronic and alcohol monitoring through a remote breath device that he must pay for.
The crash rocked the TCNJ campus, which was in the midst of finals at the time of the crash. Several of the students were members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
Injured in the crash were Danielle DeFlores, 21, an open options major from Brick; Matthew DeGenova, 21, an accounting major from Wall; Anthony Galante, 19, a finance major from North Bellmore, New York; Ryan Moore, 21, a marketing major from Midland Park; and Sot was a math major. Lamar's passenger, identified as "J.F.", was also injured.
Sot's parents have filed suit against Lamar, the restaurant, owner Nashin Worldwide and unnamed bartenders.
“From photos, witnesses and video surveillance, Lamar was intoxicated and otherwise impaired when the bartenders, servers and staff of Landmark […] continued to serve Lamar alcohol in violation of New Jersey’s Dramshop Laws,” the lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Elizabeth, says.