GRESHAM, Ore. – The former owners of a Gresham restaurant are paying a hefty price after being accused of serving too much alcohol to a driver who killed two young women.
We spoke with the parents of one of the victims. They said they hope their court victory sends a message to bar owners everywhere. After all, they said, that was the point of their lawsuit.
Marty and Lorie Shaddix have waited three years for this settlement, after the April 2007 accident that left their only child – Krissy Shaddix – and her bestfriend Jessica Blanck dead. Jessica was the daughter of Portland Police Officer Rob Blanck.
The two were celebrating Krissy's 21st birthday when Jessica's car was hit head on by a convicted drunk driver going the wrong way on Highway 14 in Vancouver.
Lorie Shaddix remembers that night like it was yesterday: "I was sound asleep and I sat up straight in bed and I hollered out 'Krissy' so loud that I woke Marty. And I just sit there and I looked at him and said 'She's not home yet'."
The clock showed 3 a.m. Police say her daughter's car was struck just 5 minutes earlier.
The driver of the wrong-way car that plowed into them is Theresa Nickelby. She had been drinking at the Golden Star Restaurant and Lounge on Stark Street in Gresham. It's under different ownership now, but Krissy's and Jessica's parents sued the former owners – saying they knowingly over-served Nickelby and then let her drive.
"We did raise our daughter with responsibility and accountability," said Lorie, "and I felt it was my duty, as her mother, to also impose that thought onto the owners of the bar as well as other [bar] owners."
The case was just settled for $1.3 million, with the possibility a judge could still more than double the amount. It turns out this bar had an over-serving history that included written warnings from Gresham police, an Oregon Liquor Control Commission fine and dozens of patron DUII arrests.
This coming April 29 Krissy would have been 24. In the wreckage, police found a camera containing this picture of Krissy wearing a birthday tiara. Washington State Patrol report neither she nor Jessica had any alcohol in their systems.
With good behavior Nickelby could be done serving her four-and-a-half-year sentence in less than a year from now. Lorie said she and others that know and miss these women were shocked that's the maximum sentence allowed under Washington law.
"There was so little given for the second homicide, [and] I think that was the kick for us," Lorie tells KATU Sunday. "One of the girl's lives was only worth nine months in prison."
We tried contacting the former owners of the restaurant. So far our messages have not been returned.
The New Golden Star:
The wrong-way driver, Theresa Nickelby, in court:
The two 21 year olds captured in this self-portrait from a camera recovered in the crash: