The family of a Canadian woman killed in a hit-and-run crash in downtown Spokane wants two bars that reportedly served the suspected driver alcohol that night held responsible for her death.
Elaine Price-Cornell, 63, died after she was hit by a car while crossing Browne Street at Spokane Falls Boulevard in November. The suspected driver, Cameron B. Olsness, is charged with vehicular homicide.
A complaint filed in Spokane County Superior Court this week seeks unspecified damages from Olsness and two downtown bars where police say the 24-year-old drank at least five mixed drinks and seven shots of tequila within an hour before hitting Price-Cornell with his Suburban and trying to drive away.
Olsness, a convicted drunken driver who was arrested again on the same charge as recently as Sept. 14, spent most of Nov. 20, the night of the crash, at Talotti’s 211, 211 N. Division, according to a police report.
The bar is named as a defendant along with Irv’s Bar, 415 W. Sprague Ave., where Olsness reportedly had a drink or two before returning to Talotti’s. Employees at each bar should have known Olsness was too drunk to be served, according to the complaint.
Price-Cornell died Nov. 30 at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.
Her medical bills totaled about $250,000, which her family doesn’t yet know if her Canadian insurance company will pay, said Spokane lawyer Stephen Haskell. Haskell filed the complaint on behalf of Price-Cornell’s husband, Jace Cornell, and daughter, Angeline Reid.
“The accident happened within five minutes of (Olsness) leaving Talotti’s,” Haskell said. “Their history demonstrates a pattern of over-serving and disregard for the rules.”
Talotti’s owners did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The complaint, the first step to a lawsuit, is the latest legal trouble for Talotti’s. Liquor board records show the popular nightspot was fined in January 2009 after police cited a 20-year-old woman for indecent exposure after she danced topless in the window and “actually stopped traffic,” according to documents.
Police said Tony Talotti “staggered out of the bar” when they arrived. Talotti recently lost his liquor license over that incident and several others, according to liquor board records.
Irv’s owner Steffan Irvin Wachholtz said his bar has no record of Olsness drinking there that night. If he was allowed in, it was because he didn’t appear intoxicated, Wachholtz said.
“We have competent door people. If he was obviously drunk he wouldn’t be in here,” Wachholtz said.
Andrea Arnold, identified in police reports as Olsness’ girlfriend, told police Olsness drank a shot or two at Irv’s after consuming five shots and two mixed drinks at Talotti’s.
He returned to Talotti’s and drank another shot and two or three more mixed drinks, according to the police report. Arnold said she told Olsness to call a cab before he got into his car and ran a red light, striking Price-Cornell as she was in a crosswalk, according to the police report.
A Spokane County sheriff’s helicopter helped catch Olsness, who is out of jail on $50,000 bond, after he ditched his car and ran, police said.
Police never found another car that a witness said may have hit Price-Cornell as she lay in the roadway, but Arnold, who flagged down police after the crash, said Olsness may have hit the woman again while driving away, according to police reports.