MILAN TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW) – The family of a teenager killed in a crash caused by a drunk driver says a Northeast Ohio bar and bartender are partially to blame for the deadly accident.
It happened on May 21, 2021, when a pick up truck veered left of center on Mason Road in Erie County’s Milan Township, and slammed into an SUV.
Killed in the collision were the driver of the pick up, 49-year-old Nicholas Barylski of Huron, and the passenger in the SUV, 15-year-old Alli Jo Kurdinat, a student at Norwalk High School.
The driver of the SUV, Alli’s stepmother, was seriously injured but survived.
The teen’s family was heartbroken when they got the terrible news that day.
Alli’s mother, Heather Armstrong, told FOX 8, “it was very hard to process at first and I didn’t think it was real and then I just broke down.”
The family was disturbed to learn that testing revealed that Nicholas Barylski’s blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.
An investigation by the Ohio Department of Public Safety found that before the accident, Barylski was drinking at Knucklehead Saloon in Huron.
Surveillance video from inside the business shows that he was one of a handful of customers sitting at the bar, and that he drank three beers and five shots.
Authorities also discovered that before arriving at the bar, Barylski had been drinking at a golf outing.
The teen’s family was distressed by the revelations.
Her mother told us, “Just upset, angry. Why my child, out of anybody? I wouldn’t want it to happen to anybody, but why my child?”
The family has now filed a lawsuit against Knucklehead Saloon and the bartender, contending they were reckless and negligent and could have prevented Alli’s death.
“Put simple rules in place to prevent the over-serving. Cut the individual off if you’re aware that they’re going to be driving,” said plaintiff’s attorney Kyle Wright.
According to the report filed by state investigators, the bartender told them that she served Nicholas Barylski “two beers and two shots,” but authorities maintain the surveillance video inside the bar shows that Barylski was actually served the equivalent of 13 drinks, three beers and five double shots of liquor, in a period of an 90 minutes.
The family is hoping their quest for justice sends a strong message to bar owners, bartenders and their customers.
“It might not be something that you want to do, to cut somebody off, but you have to make a decision. You know it could be someone’s life,” said Heather Armstrong. “I would not want anybody to go through what we have gone through in this last year.”
A representative of Knucklehead Saloon told FOX 8 over the phone that the bar had “no comment” on the lawsuit.