Friday, May 25, 2007

I feel for the family of Josh Hancock, I really do. The former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher died after slamming into the back of a parked towed truck at 1 a.m. last month on Interstate 40.

Rumours were rampant about Hancock being drunk at the time of the accident, and the subsequent toxicology reports showed him with a blood alcohol level of 0.157 -- nearly double the legal limit in Missouri.

But now Hancock's father has filed a wrongful-death suit. In it, he names Shannon's, a popular hangout near Busch Stadium, as a defendant, and adds:

* Patricia Shannon Van Matre, daughter of the former Cardinal player and current broadcaster, and manager of his bar/restaurant;
* Justin Tolar, the driver of the car which struck a median wall and was stranded in the left lane of the highway;
* Jacob E. Hargrove, the tow truck driver who stopped to help Tolar; and
* Eddie's Towing, owner of the tow truck.

You can read the particulars of the suit in the linked story, but there's one extremely sentence -- "The intoxication of Joshua Morgan Hancock on said occasion was involuntary."

Involuntary? Did the staff at Shannon's hold Hancock down and force the alcohol down his throat? Did they surreptitiously inject it into him while he was looking the other way?

Hancock was a grown man. He headed for Shannon's of his own free will, and I'm guessing he didn't go there for the curly fries. He got drunk, then chose to put himself behind the wheel of his vehicle and endanger himself and anyone else on the road. If Shannon's overserved him, they may be held partially liable.

But to target the driver of the stopped vehicle, the tow truck driver and the tow company is misguided and mean-spirited. The only possible gain from this is financial, and to try and pull money from those incidentally involved is nothing short of a macabre cash grab.

If the Hancocks were upset about the speculation over their son's condition at the time of his death, they're going to be shattered by the well-deserved villification they'll now receive. I hope Tolar and Hargrove file a countersuit against the Hancocks for mental anguish caused by having to be a party in their drunk son's death.

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