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Bartender charged with serving teen killed in crash

READ MORE: Bartender charged with serving teen killed in crash
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A former Liquid Room bartender is charged with serving alcohol to an underage patron on the night she died in an accident. According to an Alcohol Law Enforcement investigation, the bartender, 22-year-old Vincent Murphy, invited 19-year-old Marjorie Whitney to the bar before she crashed her car and died on Carolina Beach Road.

According to the investigation Murphy sent a text message asking Whitney to visit him while he was working at the Liquid Room January 4. Whitney used a fake ID to get into the bar, and witnesses say she was seen at the bar with a mixed drink.

Later that night Whitney died after running into another car while driving about 100 miles per hour. ALE says alcohol played a role in the accident.

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission suspended the bar's alcohol permit. Yesterday Murphy was charged with serving alcohol to a person under the age of 21. The Liquid Room was also cited for serving an underage person and will have to go through a review to get its permit back.

Investigators say Whitney visited several other bars on the night of the accident, but there was no evidence that she was served alcohol.

The Liquid Room does not have any previous citations.

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The same thing that happened

The same thing that happened to this "under age" girl could just as easily happened to a female 21+. It wasn't that she was 19 that is the main lesson here. Its that she made the decision to drive home knowing she shouldn't. This was not her first offense at doing this. And thats what the new hasnt reported

What good will this do?

This was a horrible accident and I hate the family has to endure the loss of their daughter, but what about personal accountability?

I agree that the bars should do all they can to prevent serving minors, but when these kids are sneaking around, faking ID's and making themselves out to be older in appearance to sneak into the bars, how is the bar supposed to know if they are truly underage? The bouncer/doorman has the inital screening responsibility, then the bartender has another if he suspects an underage drinker. Some of the fake ID's are nearly indistinguishable from an authentic one and the ladies can put on quite an appearance to get into the bars.

This incident was basically just bad judgement by the victim herslf and it cost her her life and injured another. Unfortunately she isn't the first and she won't be the last, but nobody poured that alcohol down her throat. A witch hunt for the bar isn't going to change anything. It takes personal accountability and responsibility to make better decisions and prevent this type of incident from happening. We all learn valuable lessons as young people. Sometimes we just don't get a second chance.

Playing the Devil's Advocate

First, let me start by noting the loss of life was tragic and placed the victim's family in a state of grief I'm certain takes all of their strength to face daily.

One prepares for the loss of parents and siblings. How does one face the death of a child? I'm not certain I'm that strong.

But she used a fake ID to gain entry to the establishment.

Question 1 would concern the person at the door who checked IDs. Did he know her? If he did, then he is as accountable as anyone. He or she should have been the first "line of defense" in preventing underage persons entry.

Queston 2 would concern the bartender. Did he know her well enough to know her age? If he did, no defense for him. If he did not, and he relied upon her gaining entry past the door verifier, then there's reasonable doubt.

Queston 3 would concern ABC requirements. If a person gains entry by using a fake ID at the door, are the bar tenders required to do additional ID checks or are they allowed to presume the person at the bar is of legal age as they passed through the door and had their ID checked?

Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Again, in no way am I attempting to make light of the family's loss.

To answer your question 2:

To answer your question 2: It is always the responsibility of the bar tender to double check. Working in many bar's over the past 5 years, I have ALWAYS been told when serving alcholic beverages, NEVER assume...Even if you know your door man and bouncers are fully capable of reading ID's in the end it is your responsibility as a bartender because you are the person serving the drinks.

To answer the first response...YES the ID's now a days are getting easier to look real when they are not, but that is why you attend classes put on by ALE to be able to read and identify a fake ID...my question would be did the bartender successfully pass the course...

People but their trust in bartenders, that when they are intoxicated that they are not over served as well as not served if they are underage...they also put their trust in management and doormen to be sure they get home safe...I would also ask if they management bouncers or bartenders tried to get her a taxi cab home....Honestly it sounds like the bartender was just placed back there to serve cause he knew alot of people and was never properly trained on the rules and regulations or the liability if there was to be an accident...

Bartender charged in serving under age minor

This is most definitely a tragedy for the family of the deceased minor and my sincere condolences go out to them. However, I am totally in agreement that she must have accountability for drinking the amount of alcohol which she irresponsibly consumed, drove at an exceedingly high speed, and perused other bars that night. She also committed a crime by using fake I.D. These were willful actions on her part or actions taken because of the disinhibition of that amount of alcohol in her system, but one way or another, she must take a large part of the responsibility of her tragic death and the injuries suffered by the occupant of the other vehicle she hit. Where is the responsibility of the person that provided her with that fake I.D. and why are they not being charged with a crime? Whether a drink could be verified to be "placed in her hand" or not at the other bars, the mere fact that she was in the other bars both before AND AFTER arriving at the Liquid Room, and BEFORE SHE DROVE DRUNK, one would infer that she was there to drink, giving reasonable doubt as to the direct connection between her being served at the Liquid Room and the accident that caused her death and injured another party. In addition, the extremely high amount of alcohol that was reported to be in her system; approximately equal to 25 drinks, could not have possibly been served nor consumed within the time period that she was placed in the Liquid Room. That high an amount of alcohol in a blood test is almost unheard of and most people would have either passed out or their body's natural reaction to vomit in order to rid it of the alcohol and not become alcohol poisoned would kick in. This is indicative of an alcoholic with an extremely high tolerance to alcohol. Since she LAST left the Ritz, whether or not she actually even drank there seems mute, because they still have the responsibility of not allowing an obviously intoxicated patron to leave their establishment without trying to conviscate her keys or find her someone to take her home or get a taxi for her, so why are they not being held accountable for that?

Most importantly, the bartender at the Liquid Room was bartending for his first night alone without a barback and DID NOT receive training from the ALE which is a huge missing fact unknown to the public at large, nor from the bar itself, nor ever received a policy manual, or was verbally instructed by the management about the rules of double checking ID's and this was also NEVER role-modeled for him through his training period under the supervision of other bartenders. They did not card people while training him so again he was not informed in any manner that it was a law that he needed to follow. Since this was his first bartending job, he had no previous experience to draw from.

Therefore, how could he as a brand new bartender truly be accountable to follow the regulations of the ALE when he was never informed of them? He also had previously seen her drinking at that bar as well as other local establishments which led him to believe that she was of age in addition to the fact that she passed the check at the door. The text message that keeps getting referred to was a "mass text message" where he wrote to many people inviting them to join him at the club, promoting his first night in order to bring in customers and try to encourage people to come to the bar and to gain loyal customers since that is how a bartender earns their living. This particular customer is one that returned his text inquiring about the specials, so it appeared that it was a one-on-one text, but really it went out to several people. The bartender has since erased those messages from his phone, however, someone with enough computer and cell phone hardware knowledge should be able to retrieve this information to verify his statements. Yes her number was in his phone from having had brief encounters with her around town, but they were not friends and he definitely did not know her on a "personal" basis. They did not socialize in the same groups of people. The bartender has many "aquaintances" phone numbers in his phone, but that does not imply that they were/are all his personal friends; the total amount of phone numbers he possesses is approximating the cut-off amount allowed in your blackberry contacts address book.

It was truly irresponsible for the bar to have put an inexperienced bartender on duty by himself with no back-up either by a bar back to assist him or by management serving along side of him, which the co-owner had to finally do when the traffic became to much for the bartender to handle singularly on a busy night at about 11 P.M., which naturally made him more anxious in making sure his bar was properly set-up and that he was equipped in serving the customers in a timely manner AND more importantly in not providing him the necessary and VITAL information that would, if given, possibly prevented this tragedy from occurring at all. Although the bar is currently trying to regain their license to re-open, they are not subject to any criminal charges, unlike the bartender, therefore, basically he is being made the fall guy out of all the bars the deceased girl visited that evening strictly because he was truthful about having had served her 2 beers and a shot of liquor, while others are most likely using the excuse of "not to my recollection" or committing out and out perjury during the ALE's investigation, or the ALE did not perhaps do a thorough investigation once they had an honest response from one bartender they could already charge.

The motivation of anyone here other than the bartender who told the truth during the investigation and did so without his attorney present, is unclear, however, the unfairness of the fault being put on this ONE unprepared NEW bartender, without taking into consideration these mitigating factors, such as the lack of a second check NOT being conducted due NOT to his fault but due to the lack of appropriate training and guidelines taught and enforced by the bar's management is totally for everyone else's self-protection at his expense; where basically he is being forsaked so that a criminal charge can be made in order to pave the way for further civil litigation against the bar. If the bar can, however, prove that it was the fault of the bartender only, and not theirs, then it helps make their case that they should get their license back, despite the criminal consequences to the bartender and helps them to be in a better position to defend themselves against any future civil law-suits that they may be charged with.

To support this thinking, in the newspaper article where the co-owner, Lee Hauser was interviewed, he stated that they continue to educate their staff, while it has been said by others, although the information has not been confirmed, that after this incident and this bartender let go of his position with the bar, they then brought in the ALE training for their staff. If they already had it and there were no new employees, a reasonable assumption since they were closed for business, then why would they then be offering this training to their existing staff who should have already received it? This whole thing reeks with dishonesty and everyone covering their own butts regardless of what the real facts of the case are, other than the bartender himself. In not one interview either in the newspaper nor the T.V. has the bartender nor his attorney been asked to give their understanding of the facts. The media cover on this unfortunate "news story" seems to be very imbalanced. I have to ask myself why?

You seem to have

a solid knowledge of the players involved and the circumstances of what transpired throughout the evening.

Are you the bartender trying to begin the building of your defense prior to trial?

Or are you the defense attorney?

But since you seem to know so much about what she did that evening and what and how much she consumed, were you there? And if you were, why did you not stop her from driving?

I get it..but they won't.

Yes it is the responsibility of the establishments staff to ensure people do not get too wasted, but there is also this thing called personal accountablity.
If you go to a bar planning to drink and are now wise enough to set up for a ride home, or at least moderate yourself , there is no one to blame but you for what happens.
We cannot expect the bartenders and law enforcement agencies to be the knights in shining armour we're all taught will come and rescue us...there is no such thing.
The problem with my generation is the majority of them were never talked to about alcohol, or drugs, so they only perspective they have on either is that which our DARE programs and entertainment media has shown them: Marijuana is as bad as heroine and there are no consequnces for drinking yourself under the table.
Education starts at home.