Driver in Fatal Was Drinking at Casino'
By David Collins Published on 4/29/2009
Christopher Brulotte, the 25-year-old construction worker accused of causing a fatal accident April 5 on Interstate 395, sweeping another car off the highway after hitting it from behind at a high rate of speed, was apparently spectacularly drunk.
His blood alcohol levels were .228 and .220, according to police tests, nearly three times the legal limit.
He was so drunk, someone who saw him after the accident told me, that it is hard to imagine how anyone could have continued to serve him alcohol that night. And yet they did.
Brulotte was on his way from Mohegan Sun the night of the accident, his lawyer, Ron Stevens of East Lyme, confirmed this week. He had been drinking at a restaurant there and then on the casino gaming floor, others say.
”It was a tragedy Brulotte, a resident of Lisbon who was also arrested in 2007 on drunken driving charges, will presumably pay a heavy price for what he did. He has been charged with second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle in the death of the 59-year-old Willimantic woman who died in the accident.
Brulotte was the second person in less than a month charged with drunken driving in a fatal accident who had last been drinking at Mohegan Sun before driving. A 23-year-old Connecticut College student was killed March 7 by a wrong-way driver police say had also been drinking at the Sun.
Two fatal accidents in a month attributed to drunken drivers served at the same place is a damning record, one that apparently has been a loud call to action.
Mitchell Etess, president and chief executive officer, said Tuesday the casino has instituted a number of new policies and training programs since the two accidents.
In addition to existing training for liquor servers, dealers will also be taught to better identify and flag drunk patrons. Valets will also get new training. Security personnel will be stationed at exits to the garages on weekend nights to be on the lookout for people who shouldn't drive and electronic signage throughout the casino will deliver drunken driving warnings with increasing frequency throughout the night.
The drink service rules have also been tightened so that customers may be served no more than two drinks an hour. It used to be three. That includes drinks that are paid for as well as complimentary drinks served to people who are gambling.
”We felt like we were doing a lot of things already,” Etess said, citing extensive training programs for beverage servers and electronic systems to be sure that a patron cut off in one area of the casino isn't served somewhere else.
”We always felt we have had a rigorous program in trying to monitor and deal with the consumption of alcohol on the property but . . . in light of the recent events we decided to expand our efforts.”
Both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods pay to have liquor inspectors on the property and both pay substantial fines for violations, although neither casino has ever had its license suspended. Mohegan Sun has paid far more fines over the years, and settled 18 incidents of serving intoxicated people in 2007 and 2008, compared to just two cases at Foxwoods in the same period.
Etess said he couldn't explain the disparity. One can only hope it's going to end.
The state police, too, have taken the two accidents as a call to do something about an obvious problem.
Police were wrong not to disclose to the public, in the wake of the most recent accident, that the accused driver had been drinking at the casino. They did tell casino executives, though.
A recent enhanced weekend police drunken driving patrol netted seven arrests in less than eight hours. More are planned.
Maybe we've reached a turning point.
One thing is for sure. I don't think Gov. Rell will cozy up again for a long, long time to the idea of allowing the casinos to serve liquor 24 hours a day.
This Is The Opinion Of David Collins.
EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE; If you read the story, you come away thinking that maybe the state police didn't tell the media, where the drivers came from to begin with.
It is good to hear that the casinos are doing somthing about this problem. Hopefuly more lives don't have to be lost. Maybe the plan will work. Let's pray it does. I would not want this on my conscience.
Collins is probably correct, when he states that Governor M. Jodi Rell will not be advocatiing twenty four (24) hour driniking in the casinos anytime soon. Keeping drunk drivers off the roadways seem to be a hard thing to do. Good job David Collins. What do you think?