Exclusive: Victim in DWI bus stop crash blames Liquor Authority for failing to investigate

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Exclusive: Victim in DWI bus stop crash blames Liquor Authority for failing to investigate
Jim Hoffer has the latest on an investigation into how the state of New York looked into a drunk driving accident that seriously hurt a young woman.

GRAMERCY PARK, New York City (WABC) -- A college student who was hit by an alleged drunk driver while waiting at a bus stop earlier this year is demanding that accountability for the crash extend to the bar that she says over-served the driver, and she blames the state Liquor Authority for failing to investigate.

Marina Mesamed says her life changed forever that evening last July, when the car driven by a drunk driver slammed into her in Gramercy Park.

"I've got multiple fractures," she said in an exclusive interview with 7 On Your side Investigates. "It's been difficult adjusting."

Mesamed said she has undergone numerous surgeries, and her legs are held together by metal rods and wires. Her college pursuits have been put on hold while she re-learns to walk.

"I don't know if I'll have a normal life," she said.

The driver is charged with first-degree vehicular assault, but Mesamed wants accountability to extend to the bar that she believes kept serving him even while he was drunk.

"I'm still trying to comprehend how the bar can allow someone to be that intoxicated, allow him to walk out," she said.

The driver had gone to Reservoir Bar in the Village to pick up his girlfriend, who worked there. Mesamed is now suing the bar, claiming in court documents that they carelessly and recklessly provided alcoholic beverages in violation of the law.

The bar has denied the allegations, which is why Mesamed wants the State Liquor Authority to investigate.

"They haven't responded," she said. "They haven't investigated. They haven't asked questions."

We went to the chairman of the State Liquor Authority, Vincent Bradley, who was unfamiliar with the case but made clear to us what triggers their enforcement unit into action.

"Our investigations are complaint-driven," he said. "That would trigger an investigation, a complaint."

Mesamed, through her attorney Paul Edelsetin, sent a complaint letter to the Liquor Authority pleading for them to investigate the bar's role in the incident. Edelstein said the allegations suggests the bar violated the law not to serve intoxicated patrons.

"We know a drunk driver who was incredibly drunk and caused devastating injuries," he said. "We also know he was in a bar for a significant period of time, and we know that a bartender who works at the bar that was apparently having a relationship with this man was in his car at the time that he nearly killed my client. Those things we know. That ought to be enough for a state agency to say, 'We want to ask some questions.' They haven't."

In a statement to 7 On Your Side Investigates, Liquor Authority spokesman William Crowley said they "investigated and was unable to uncover evidence to substantiate the claim."

Crowley also said in a phone interview that the Authority never interviewed anyone at the bar, nor anyone involved in the accident.

The bar has acknowledged in court documents that the driver was present at the bar and his girlfriend is a server there. Msamed said the lack of accountability makes her struggle to heal much harder.

"It's definitely been painful," she said. "It's been painful emotionally, physically."

The State Liquor Authority did issue a letter to Reservoir Bar reminding the licensee of its obligation under the law.

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