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Family sues Anchorage bar where airman drank before fatal collision

Jan. 7, 2014 - 02:57PM   |  
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ANCHORAGE, ALASKA — The family of an Anchorage woman who was killed in a traffic collision has filed a lawsuit against the bar where authorities say the driver charged in the death acknowledged drinking heavily before the crash.

The lawsuit accuses Chilkoot Charlie’s and Lane Douglas Wyatt of liability in the death of 20-year-old Citari Townes-Sweatt last year.

“If you’re going to be serving someone, you have to do it in a responsible manner, and they play a role in this tragic death,” said Darryl Thompson, the family’s attorney. “It’s pretty clear this kid was served a lot of booze at Chilkoot’s.”

The murder and other charges accuse Wyatt, a Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson airman, of running a red light about 5 a.m. June 30 in east Anchorage, slamming into a car driven by Townes-Sweatt. The criminal trial for Wyatt, 23, is set for March. He is charged with second-degree murder, drunken driving, manslaughter and seven counts of assault.

After the crash, Wyatt’s blood-alcohol level was .196, more than twice the legal limit, according to prosecutors.

The civil lawsuit was filed Nov. 22 by attorneys for Lanita Sweatt-Sanders, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Wyatt’s attorney in the civil case could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

Chilkoot Charlie’s co-owner Mike Gordon places responsibility for the death with Wyatt. He declined to talk in detail about the civil case.

“We had safety procedures in place that the driver chose not to avail himself of, including a taxi we would have provided and, as I understand it, a military walk through that night that would have provided him a ride back to (base) as well,” Gordon said in an email. He also questioned what Wyatt was doing after he left the bar.

Base officials have declined to say whether Wyatt and his friends were believed to have been drinking on base after leaving Chilkoot Charlie’s.

Wyatt recently has been living in Wasilla and working at JBER, according to Alaska Pretrial Services. The organization said Wyatt must take several breathalyzer tests a day while out on bail and he also wears an ankle monitor.

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