Saskatchewan sues bars that served drunk driver

REGINA — Catherine McKay’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit when she drove into a car carrying the Van de Vorst family in January 2016, killing a couple and their two young children.

Now, Saskatchewan’s Crown-owned insurance company is suing two Saskatoon bars that served McKay alcohol.

“She was three times over the limit and no one prevented her from driving. Someone has to be responsible, and as a result of no one doing that, there was a family of four that was killed,” Earl Cameron, executive vice-president of Saskatchewan Government Insurance, said Thursday.

“There’s a legal obligation to make sure your patrons are safe and they don’t harm themselves or someone else.”

McKay was driving an SUV that struck the Van de Vorst family’s car as it crossed a highway just north of Saskatoon on Jan. 3, 2016.

Jordan Van de Vorst, who was 34, and his 33-year-old wife, Chanda Van de Vorst, died at the scene. Their five-year-old daughter, Kamryn, and her two-year-old brother, Miguire, died in hospital.

McKay was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death.

Saskatchewan Government Insurance, known as SGI, has filed a statement of claim against the bars, Industrial Kitchen &Bar and Crackers Licensed Cocktail &Dining Room.

The claim alleges that each tavern overserved McKay and knew or ought to have known she was impaired. The lawsuit alleges the taverns allowed McKay to drive away without taking action.

It also states that the Industrial Kitchen and Lounge Corporation was aware that McKay frequently consumed alcohol at the business to the point of becoming impaired.

“I’m not going to say what the bars should have done. I’m going to say the bars, in this case, could have prevented this had someone intervened,” said Cameron.

“Three times over the legal limit, I think you can tell. Let’s not sugar-coat this. Three times.”

Cameron said bars have training and rules to follow when it comes to serving alcohol and “this is a case where this person left the bar clearly intoxicated.”

The phone number for Industrial Kitchen &Bar was no longer in service and a link to the restaurant’s website redirected to a different restaurant.

Sean Cunningham, the owner of Crackers restaurant, said Thursday that he and partners bought the business in August 2016 — months after McKay was served and the fatal crash occurred.

Cunningham said he’s contacted SGI about the lawsuit.

“I believe it should be under the previous owner. At this time right now, I’m not sure if it is,” he said.

Cameron said SGI also plans to file a suit against McKay.

This is the first time SGI has filed such a claim, but similar suits have been filed in other parts of the country.

Earlier this year, a British Columbia court found that a man convicted of drunk driving and the pub that served him were jointly responsible for a crash that left pedestrian with brain damage.

The SGI suit seeks $95,000.

When asked what he hoped the suit would accomplish, Cameron choked back tears and said: “Ultimately, no more accidents like this one.”

Lou Van de Vorst, Jordan’s father, said he hopes this lawsuit sends a message that bars need to be more accountable for their actions.

“It’s just a very good thing,” Van de Vorst told radio station CKRM.

“I think it will make liquor or establishments that serve alcohol take a second look at what they’re doing, if they’re overserving or if they’re serving people who are obviously impaired.”

Saskatchewan has some of the highest rates of impaired driving in Canada. Statistics Canada says there were 683 police-reported impaired driving incidents per 100,000 population in Saskatchewan in 2011. The Canadian average was 262.

SGI says alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all fatal traffic collisions in the province.

Jennifer Graham , The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Accused murderer’s story questioned

Jason Klaus spends day being cross-examined by lawyer for co-accused Joshua Frank

Red Deer Royals extend fundraising deadline for St. Joseph fieldhouse project

Fundraising chair says it’s a tough slog raising money in this economy

Red Deer seeks public input on coming changes to sign bylaw

A half-kilometre buffer zone could separate billboards in Red Deer under proposed… Continue reading

Innisfail man injured in home invasion

Police say the injury was non life-threatening

Credentials questioned man at Remembrance Day services

Veterans are crying foul after an alleged faker posed as a former… Continue reading

VIDEO: Red Deerians taste what the city has to offer

Red Deerians sampled some of the finest foods Central Alberta restaurants have… Continue reading

Volunteer with victim services in Red Deer

Learn more at info session on Nov. 27

Updated: Missing Sylvan Lake women found

Women were reported missing earlier this week

Liberals propose billions for affordable housing, including individual benefits

A Liberal government fond of promising help for those working hard to… Continue reading

Alberta Party sees growth in Central Alberta

Greg Clark addressed health care needs addressed in Red Deer

Ponoka council freezes Ponoka Fire Department spending

All discretionary spending frozen until full budget numbers are presented

WATCH: Ponoka’s Festival of Trees sees continued support

Three days of celebration and fundraising held at the Calnash Ag Event Centre

Creationist will speak at home-schooling convention in Red Deer

Ken Ham has debated Bill Nye on the Earth’s origins

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month