Crime

Relatives sue drunken driver, restaurant over Puyallup woman’s death

The husband and daughter of a Puyallup woman killed in a car crash have sued the drunken driver responsible and the restaurant where they contend he was over-served alcohol before the crash.

Robert Akridge and Chelsea Baker seek unspecified damages from Stephen Earl Killmer and Lady Luck Cowgirl Up, according to the lawsuit filed last week in Pierce County Superior Court.

They say Killmer drank to excess at Lady Luck one evening earlier this year and then got behind the wheel of his Jeep Cherokee. The Cherokee and the Akridges’ car collided early the next morning, killing Donna Akridge on her 59th birthday.

“Defendant Lady Luck Cowgirl Up and its employees or agents were negligent in serving an obviously intoxicated individual and in over-serving said individual,” the lawsuit states.

Jim Hoyle, who owns the restaurant at 14114 Pacific Ave. S. in Tacoma, told The News Tribune, “We don’t think he was over-served.” He declined to comment further.

The wreck occurred about 1 a.m. on Jan. 26 at Canyon Road East and state Route 512.

The Akridges were returning home from a night out to celebrate Donna Akridge’s birthday when Kilmer ran a red light and slammed into them. Baker was not with them at the time of the crash.

Killmer, whose blood-alcohol level was measured at three times the legal limit, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and was sentenced in September to seven years, two months in state prison.

The lawsuit contends Killmer, 25, got drunk while celebrating a friend’s birthday at Lady Luck and that bartenders and the wait staff should have stopped serving him alcohol earlier in the evening.

“During this night of partying, Killmer continued to order and be served drinks after he had become obviously intoxicated,” the lawsuit states.

Killmer caught a ride with a friend when the party ended. A sheriff’s deputy pulled over the car he was riding in not long after it left the restaurant, the suit states.

“The officers documented that Killmer was slurring his words and had difficulty retrieving his license from his wallet,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant Killmer was cited for failure to wear a seat belt.”

Killmer later was dropped off at a house where he’d parked his Cherokee. His friends said he told them he planned “to sleep off his intoxication” before driving, the lawsuit contends.

He didn’t.

“The resulting injuries and death described above were directly and proximately caused by Defendant Killmer’s negligent operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol,” the lawsuit contends.

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