A head-on collision on May River Road last Dec. 9 has led to a lawsuit against a Bluffton man and a popular Bluffton restaurant and bar.
The suit, filed July 6, alleges that Todd M. Turrill of Bluffton was intoxicated on Dec. 9 when he crossed over the center line on May River Road, colliding with a rented minivan.
The minivan was driven by David Stewart, who along with his family, was vacationing on Hilton Head Island from their home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. They were returning to Hilton Head from dinner at The Pirate’s House restaurant in Savannah at the time of the collision. The entire Stewart family was injured, and they are all named as plaintiffs in the suit
All members of the Stewart family were able to walk away from the accident, though one person was found at some point after the incident to have suffered a traumatic brain injury, according to the suit.
Cheap Seats Restaurant Group, LLC and Cheap Seats Tavern 2 on Burnt Church Road in Bluffton are also named in the suit. The restaurant and bar is alleged to have served Turrill after he had become visibly intoxicated. The suit also alleges that employees of Cheap Seats did nothing to prevent Turrill from driving away from the establishment while under the influence.
“We know that he (Turrill) was charged with DUI for being intoxicated at the time of the wreck,” said the Stewart family’s attorney, W. Andrew Bowen of Savannah law firm Bowen Painter LLC. “We have a witness who saw him pull out of the parking lot at Cheap Seats moments before the wreck occured. Based on that timing it is our belief that he was certainly intoxicated while he was at Cheap Seats as well.”
Bowen also said that one of the owners of Cheap Seats confirmed to him that Turrill was a customer at Cheap Seats the night of the accident.
Rob Hummel, owner of Cheap Seats Tavern 2, would not comment on the matter except to say that he was unaware of any of the parties involved.
This lawsuit follows just weeks after a suit filed against Cool Cats Lounge in Hilton Head for allegedly serving an intoxicated person. In that case, the intoxicated person allegedly shot someone. There has been a trend of such suits in South Carolina recently.
“The law in South Carolina is that a bar isn’t allowed to serve someone who is intoxicated, whether they came in intoxicated and had drinks there or whether they got drunk there,” said Bowen.
Turrill was criminally charged for driving under the influence and driving on the wrong side of the road. He was released on bond on Dec. 10 and is still awaiting trial.
Multiple attempts to reach Turrill and his attorney in the civil matter were unsuccessful.