SOUTH BEND — The daughter of a man killed in a head-on collision on State Route 6 outside of Menlo in March 2019 has filed a negligent and wrongful death lawsuit against a South Bend bar and the driver who allegedly struck her father, Shawn D. Clearwater.
The driver, Mickey S. Pine, is already set to stand trial next month for a vehicular homicide charge from the collision. The felony case for the collision has been in the justice system for over two years with repeated continuances.
It’s alleged that Pine was driving eastbound on SR 6 while intoxicated in a 2016 Toyota Tacoma and went over the center line around milepost 7 and struck Clearwater’s 1995 Mercury Cougar head-on.
Pine and his attorney, Pam Nogueira of Ingram, Zelasko & Goodwin LLC, have adamantly claimed the collision was a mere accident and that Pine was attempting to change a radio station when he went into the other lane colliding with Clearwater.
Documents reveal horror
Court documents for the lawsuit filed on behalf of Sloan M. Clearwater by Younglove & Coker, P.L.L.C, have been made public, including additional details that recount what an unidentified mother and daughter duo said they witnessed immediately after the collision.
The documents allege the witnesses arrived at the scene moments after Pine’s truck veered into the westbound lane. They arrived in separate vehicles, and the daughter ran to a nearby home to call 911 while the mother went to Clearwater’s aid.
The witness alleged that Clearwater was still alive immediately following the collision and was calling out for help, and Pine was clearing debris from the roadway for no apparent reason. The recount of the aftermath is gruesome, with the witness stating Clearwater’s left arm was nearly severed and that “he was aware” and in “severe pain.”
2 hours and 8 minutes
The first 911 call was received by Pacific County Dispatch at 2:14 a.m., and the first medical unit from the Raymond Fire Department was on scene at 2:30 a.m. The lawsuit alleges that Clearwater was still alive upon their arrival and complained that he was having a hard time breathing. LifeFlight was subsequently requested.
It took first responders approximately 40 minutes to extricate Clearwater from the mangled vehicle. Documents reveal that during the collision, a winch on the front of Pine’s truck ripped off the driver’s door of Clearwater’s car and crushed in the driver’s side of the vehicle with Clearwater dangling partially out.
The helicopter from LifeFlight arrived on the scene 12 minutes later at 3:22 a.m., but Clearwater’s condition “quickly deteriorated,” the lawsuit alleges, and at 3:28 a.m. first-responders began performing CPR. Lifesaving efforts continued for another 45 minutes before Clearwater was pronounced deceased at 4:22 a.m., 2 hours and 2 minutes from the 911 call.
According to the same court documents, Clearwater’s death certificate lists cerebral contusion and blunt force trauma as the causes of death. In the criminal case against Pine, court records state an autopsy was not completed.
Estimated to be well over legal BAC
The Washington State Patrol was the primary law enforcement agency and investigated the cause of the collision. Responding troopers reported the “obvious odor of intoxicants” emanating from Pine and observed other visual clues of intoxication, including bloodshot and watery eyes, the lawsuit alleges.
Pine was allegedly asked to complete a field sobriety test and was subsequently arrested. Four hours after the collision at 6:55 a.m., after a warrant was secured, Pine was subjected to a blood sample to determine his blood alcohol content (BAC).
The result was a .072% BAC, and the WSP Investigative Services Bureau calculated that it would have been approximately .132% BAC at the time of the collision, roughly 1.65 times the legal limit of .08% BAC.
Claim lodged against bar
Before the collision, Pine admitted to drinking at Chester Tavern in South Bend before heading toward his home in Lewis County. Court documents allege he initially admitted to drinking “three beers” before leaving the bar, but reportedly changed his statement to “some.”
The lawsuit also alleges that “Chester Tavern, through its agents/employees, violated its duty to Shawn D. Clearwater by negligently selling and/or serving alcohol to patron Mickey Samuel Pine when it was apparent he was under the influence of liquor.
“Thereby causing his intoxication and a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit in Washington for driving a motor vehicle on the state highways and thus directly and proximately causing the death of Shawn D. Clearwater,” the documents added.
Washington state law states that “no person shall sell any liquor to any person apparently under the influence of liquor,” and “no person who is apparently under the influence may purchase or consume liquor on any premises licensed by the board.”
Both bartenders and bars can be held legally responsible for any damages or deaths caused by an intoxicated person who they have over-served and allowed to continue consuming alcohol after becoming intoxicated.
Beyond being legally liable, establishments and workers can be fined by the Washington State Cannabis and Liquor Control Board and have licenses revoked.
The lawsuit does not specify how much money is being sought.