Crown Point Family Sues After Son’s DWI Death

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July 24, 2013 —  A Crown Point family is talking about the collision that killed their son.  Philip Briner died after his truck was struck by a man accused of driving drunk last November on I-94 in Illinois.   The Lakeshore’s Sarah Holst spoke with the Briner family Tuesday about the loss … and about the lawsuit they hope will help deter others from drinking and driving….

Sarah — Andrew Briner says he and his family have shed a tear every day since november tenth of last year.  That was the day that a Crown Point police officer came knocking on their door at three A-M to ask Andrew if he was the father of Phillip Briner.

A. Briner – You get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that something’s not right. I asked the police was he alive, and they said we don’t know, but here’s the number to call. And when we called, the number was for the emergency room.

When the Briner family arrived at Advocate Christ medical center in Oak Lawn … they learned that twenty-one-year-old Phillip was struck by a man accused of driving drunk, while going home from work in Illinois.  Doctors tried more than thirty minutes to revive Philip before pronouncing him dead.  Phillip was a massage therapist who loved the Beatles and taught himself to play guitar.  Phillip’s mother … Mona Briner … says she still struggles to understand her son’s death.

M. Briner – I want to ask God “Why?” because he was our rock. I can’t understand why a drink was more important than a life.

The Briners say they’re telling their story to prevent other families from experiencing the same tragedy. They’ve also filed a civil lawsuit against the driver of the car … Tyrone Stokes of Chicago … the owner of the car … and the owners of Margaret Filling Station, the bar where Stokes allegedly drank before crashing into Briner.

Atorney Patrick  Salvi – We have what’s called a Dram Shop Law. When someone is in the business of selling or giving away alcohol, if that causes intoxication of someone who goes out and causes an accident that injures or kills someone, the bar is liable. They may not be the main culprit but they certainly stand as one of the parties that should have liability.

The Briners say they struggled with the decision to file the lawsuit. Andrew Briner says he wants others to know that a collision with a drunk driver is no accident… it is the result of a conscious decision to put others in danger.

A. Briner – The purpose of all of this is to get the message out that drinking and driving don’t mix, and there are real consequences for it. It’s not just the person, it’s the family that’s left behind to deal with it. The man that hit Phillip, all he got was a scratch on his head. We had to have a closed casket.

In Crown Point… Sarah Holst… Lakeshore News.

Attorney Patrick Salvi says the Briners’ civil lawsuit will be delayed until stokes’ criminal charges are resolved.

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