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Two local bars are being sued for allegedly serving a patron who was involved in a fatal drunk-driving accident.

On Oct. 17, 2018, Roger Moe was driving north in the southbound lanes of Interstate 29 when he collided head-on with another vehicle. The passenger in that car, Austin Cross, suffered multiple fractures, lacerations and a significant brain injury that led to his death a week later.

His parents, Francis Cross and Stacy Garcia, are suing the Veterans of Foreign Wars 1668 Bar and Peterman’s Shamrock Bar alleging they served Moe when he was visibly intoxicated, according to a wrongful death petition.

The lawsuit states that the bars violated Missouri statute 537.053 which says, “A cause of action may be brought by or on behalf of any person who has suffered personal injury or death against any person licensed to sell intoxicating liquor by the drink for consumption on the premises when it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the seller knew or should have known that intoxicating liquor was served to a visibly intoxicated person.”

The owner of Peterman’s Shamrock Bar declined to comment, and no one at the VFW Bar could be reached for comment despite multiple attempts.

According to the wrongful death petition, Moe left the bars and drove north in the southbound lanes of I-29 before parking perpendicular to the highway in the grass. Multiple concerned motorists stopped to help and “observed Moe was confused and unable to summon the bodily coordination and/or cognition to open his car door,” the petition states.

Missouri State Highway Patrol vehicles soon arrived. Moe fled, continuing north in the southbound lanes of I-29 reaching speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. This is when he crashed and injured Cross in the other vehicle.

The Missouri statute says, “a person is ‘visibly intoxicated’ when inebriated to such an extent that the impairment is shown by significantly uncoordinated physical action or significant physical dysfunction. A person’s blood alcohol content does not constitute prima facie evidence to establish that a person is visibly intoxicated.”

While the wrongful death petition mentions his blood alcohol content from a breathalyzer and chemical test exceeded the legal limit, it also includes examples of uncoordinated action and dysfunction.

For example, Moe told state troopers that he wasn’t aware he was driving in the wrong direction, fleeing police and driving more than 100 miles per hour. State troopers also observed that Moe was visibly intoxicated with “bloodshot eyes, uncertain balance and slurred speech,” according to the petition.

Moe pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and was sentenced in October to 15 years in prison. Shortly after, the parents of Austin Cross filed the wrongful death lawsuit against VFW Bar and Peterman’s Shamrock Bar for “injuries and damages suffered by Austin’s death.”

A trial for the civil case is set for Feb. 15 at the Buchanan County Courthouse.

Quinn Ritzdorf can be reached at quinn.ritzdorf@newspressnow.com

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