Hopkins Icehouse sued over drunk driving fatality

Chad Caldwell

A wrongful death suit filed in connection with a fatal 2013 drunk driving crash casts blame on a popular downtown Texarkana watering hole.

Hopkins Icehouse bar and restaurant, the bar’s owners, and Chad Caldwell are among the defendants named in a suit filed Friday in Miller County on behalf of Sheron Hawkins by Texarkana lawyers Chad Trammell and Hawley Holman. Caldwell plead guilty last year in Bowie County to two counts of intoxication manslaughter and one count of intoxication assault. He is currently serving a 20-year sentence.

Caldwell ran a red light at the intersection of State Line Avenue and 14th Street in Texarkana, Texas in the early hours of Sept. 29, 2013. Caldwell’s jeep slammed into a car being driven by Tameka Pavon, 38. Pavon and passenger Jercarlos Hawkins, 34, were killed. A second passenger in Pavon’s car, Genaro Camacho, 28, suffered a debilitating brain injury from which he is unlikely to fully recover.

The suit alleges Caldwell drank heavily at the Texarkana, Ark., bar before getting behind the wheel and causing the wreck in Texarkana, Texas.

“On Sept. 28, 2013, and continuing to Sept. 29, 2013, defendant Caldwell arrived at Hopkins Icehouse Bar and consumed approximately 20 beers and three to five mixed drinks,” the lawsuit alleges. “Defendant Hopkins Icehouse Bar continued to serve defendant Caldwell intoxicating beverages well after he became visibly intoxicated. Defendant Hopkins Icehouse Bar allowed defendant Caldwell to leave its premises in a state of visible intoxication without making any attempts to ‘sober him up.’”

The lawsuit claims Caldwell’s blood alcohol level was .301 when it was tested at 3:22 a.m. on the morning of the crash. In Texas and Arkansas it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher.

The suit accuses Hopkins of negligence for selling alcohol to Caldwell when he was clearly drunk and for failing to train staff as to how such a situation should be handled. Caldwell is accused of negligence for failing to drive in a safe manner, for failing to keep a proper lookout, for failing to drive at a reasonable rate of speed, and for driving while intoxicated.

Sheron Hawkins is asking for a damages award for Jercarlos Hawkins’ suffering before death, medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of life and for “mental anguish suffered in the past and reasonably expected to be suffered in the future by the wrongful death beneficiaries.”

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