The parents of a Hampden Academy graduate who died in a 2021 car crash have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against three bars and a chain restaurant in Bangor, alleging that staff continued serving the intoxicated driver, who also died.
Tyler Wheaton, 23, of Hampden and Christian Broberg, 22, of Winterport were killed on Nov. 18, 2021, when the car they were in went into Souadabscook Stream after crashing into a Kia at the intersection of Main Road North and Coldbrook Road in Hampden.
Both men were ejected from the car and their bodies were found in the water several hundred yards from the vehicle, Hampden Public Safety said the day after the crash. Wheaton died of drowning, the complaint said.
Under the Maine Liquor Liability Act, a business and its employees are liable for damages up to $350,000, excluding medical bills, if a server provides alcohol to a “visibly intoxicated individual.”
If the parents were to win their case, the damages could be divided equally between the businesses, the law says.
Broberg, who was driving a 2005 Subaru, had a blood-alcohol level of .30 percent, nearly four times the .08 level to legally operate a vehicle, according to the complaint.
Wheaton’s parents, Sharon and Michael Wheaton of Hampden, on Tuesday sued Benjamin’s Pub, Carolina Sports & Spirits, Diamonds Gentleman’s Club and Applebee’s Restaurant in Penobscot County Superior Court.
They also sued Broberg’s estate and the driver of a second car involved, Laura Brissette, 38, of Hampden.
The couple is seeking unspecified damages in the death of their son, a 2017 graduate of Hampden Academy.
The lawsuit claims that Broberg showed signs of being intoxicated at all four establishments and should not have been served alcohol. The complaint did not lay out a timeline of when the men visited the bars and restaurant. It also did not reveal Wheaton’s blood-alcohol level.
The complaint alleges that Brissette turned off Cold Brook Road onto Main Road North into the path of Broberg’s southbound Subaru. That allegedly caused Broberg’s vehicle to swerve out of control, break through the guardrail and plunge into the stream.
The accident report signed by Hampden police officer Joshua Ewing and filed with the state said that Brissette did not contribute to the cause of the accident.
The report said that Broberg was impaired and operated the “motor vehicle in [an] erratic, reckless, careless, negligent or aggressive manner.” It also said that he had crossed the center line and was in the wrong lane when his car struck Brissette’s 2016 Kia.
Brissette and her husband, Clifton Foster, 38, were returning from the movies. Foster told the Bangor Daily News the day after the crash that Broberg’s Subaru hit the left rear door of Brissette’s and Foster’s Kia, tearing the axle and bumper off, Foster said. It sent the car spinning, turning by nearly 180 degrees. The couple sustained minor injuries but their car was demolished.
Foster also said that Broberg appeared to be driving well over the 35 mile-per-hour speed limit on that section of Main Road North.
The Wheatons’ attorney, Jeffrey Edwards of Portland, did not respond to a request for comment. Attorneys for the defendants in the case also did not return requests for comment.