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Chuck’s loses liquor license

Authorities: Man had 17 drinks before wrong-way crash

The state’s Liquor Control Commission has revoked the liquor license of a Toledo bar that was connected to a fatal, wrong-way crash two years ago on Christmas morning.

Authorities said Adam Tunison downed 17 alcoholic drinks over a three-hour period at Chuck’s on Monroe before getting into his large sport-utility vehicle and driving north in the southbound lanes of I-75, where he crashed head-on into a car driven by 26-year-old Juan Garcia, Jr.

Mr. Garcia was killed at the scene. Tunison was found guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide and is serving an eight-year prison sentence.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Investigative Unit cited Chuck’s on Monroe for selling alcohol to an intoxicated person.

Last month, the state’s three-member Liquor Control Commission board held a hearing on the incident and voted to revoke the bar’s liquor license, said Sarah Creedon, the Liquor Control Commission’s executive director. The bar will no longer be able to serve beer, wine, or spirits. The order went into effect Thursday.

Walter “Bimmer” Smarszcz, the owner of the West Toledo bar, said Friday that he had been surprised by the officials’ decision to revoke his permit and their refusal to hear his appeal, but said he’s trying to move on as positively as he can.

“This has been a hard situation to deal with as it is,” he said. “We employ 30 people. Everybody loves their job, the establishment. It’s been sad through the whole thing. Their hearts have been heavy through the whole thing.”

Mr. Smarszcz said Chuck’s will remain open as a diner-style restaurant. He may do some light remodeling inside and plans to begin serving breakfast.

“We’re definitely not closing. Obviously alcohol sales are a big part of our business, but we do significant food sales also,” he said. “We’re going to try to get through this doing food sales for the time being and we’re going to look into maybe getting a new license in there.”

Ms. Creedon couldn’t elaborate on the specific reasons the commission decided to revoke the bar’s permit after the hearing, or say how much the severity of that early-morning crash may have factored into its decision.

“Really it’s just based on the facts and circumstances of any given case. The commission will look at a permit holder’s prior record and take that into consideration, but really it just kind of depends on the facts of any given case in terms of the penalty that’s issued,” she said.

An online search of liquor control violations on the state’s Web site didn’t return any similar citations at Chuck’s.

Ms. Creedon said the board’s deliberations are not public.

A civil lawsuit filed by Mr. Garcia’s family that names Chuck’s on Monroe and its parent company among several defendants is pending in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134 or on Twitter @BladeAutoWriter.

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