Woman’s death leads to citation of Basalt bartender by state liquor board
The Aspen Times
A Basalt bartender who told authorities he did all he thought he could do to get Kathryn Kania home safely July 10 faces a misdemeanor charge on suspicion of serving her a drink on the night she was struck and killed by a vehicle while standing on Highway 82.
Donald “Blake” MacDougal, 50, of New Castle, received a summons Aug. 21 from the Liquor Enforcement Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue on suspicion of “sale or service of alcohol beverage to a visibly intoxicated person.” MacDougal is a co-owner of Stubbies Sports Bar and Eatery, according to a police report.
MacDougal allegedly told a Basalt police officer he was tending bar when Kania came into the bar around midnight, according to a report compiled by a Colorado State Patrol investigator.
The Basalt officer said he interviewed MacDougal and learned that the “bartender had reportedly served her one ‘light’ vodka drink, even though he had been speaking with her and told her that she was ‘intoxicated,’” the State Patrol report said. “After this, she apparently started drinking water, and then attempted to leave.
“MacDougal took her car keys, and when she tried to leave and drive her vehicle again he called 911. He reported that she was uncooperative. Finally, a sober ride was arranged for her.”
Another bar patron who was not intoxicated agreed to give Kania a ride to her residence in Willits, the report said. MacDougal allegedly called 911 back and canceled the response by Basalt officers because Kania had a “sober ride home,” according to the State Patrol report.
The designated driver took Kania to her residence, roughly 3 miles from the bar, and told officers they spent 15 minutes in her driveway. He was trying to get her out and she was allegedly arguing to get a ride back to the bar, the report said. The driver told authorities he was able to “trick” her into getting out of the car, and then he drove away.
Authorities are uncertain what occurred between when Kania was dropped off and when she was struck on Highway 82 a short distance from her home. A woman who was driving and stopped for a traffic signal at Highway 82 and Willits Lane told authorities she saw a woman standing in the middle of the intersection at about 1:45 a.m. The woman, who the witness thought was Kania, attempted to get into the car. The driver locked her doors and drove away because she was “scared,” the State Patrol report said.
About five minutes later, Kania was struck by another vehicle headed east on Highway 82. The investigation by the State Patrol indicated Kania was standing in the right, eastbound travel lane. The driver who struck her wasn’t found to be guilty of any wrongdoing and wasn’t ticketed.
The investigation by Basalt police and the State Patrol determined that Kania met friends at one of the free weekly concerts at Snowmass Village earlier that evening. A friend said they met at about 7 p.m. and had “a couple of drinks” at a bar in Snowmass Village and then went to the concert. They later went to another bar in the village with other friends.
The friend told authorities the last time she saw Kania was about 10:30 p.m. on a bus headed to Basalt. She said Kania had driven to the Basalt park-and-ride lot on Highway 82 before going out for the night.
Kania’s car was found in the Stubbies parking lot after the accident, leading authorities to believe she drove there from the park-and-ride lot.
Officials with the state Liquor Enforcement Division will not comment on the case. A representative of the agency said there is typically an administrative action to determine what penalty, if any, should be taken against an establishment possessing a liquor license when an employee receives a summons.
MacDougal is scheduled to appear in Pitkin County Court on Tuesday. The prosecution of the case will be handled by 9th Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia’s office.
MacDougal declined comment on the case.
Caloia said MacDougal is facing a Class 2 misdemeanor, which, if he is convicted, is punishable by a fine of as much as $1,000, as much as one year in jail or both.
Caloia said the report that MacDougal apparently took Kania’s car keys away and found her a sober ride home will be considered in the case.
“It will weigh into our prosecution of it and what we think is the proper disposition of it,” she said.
Caloia added, “In my opinion, he shouldn’t have served her in the first place.” But after that, he “did the right thing,” she said.
Caloia said she did not know if bartenders at either of the Snowmass Village businesses where Kania was allegedly drinking were facing prosecution. She said her office will confer with the Liquor Enforcement Division and Basalt Police Department prior to Tuesday’s appearance. There is a chance her office could reach an agreement with MacDougal prior to that appearance, she said.
“Hopefully we will have an opportunity to discuss what we think is an appropriate disposition,” Caloia said.
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