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Restaurant denies blame in fatal DUI

Representatives of a defunct steakhouse last week denied responsibility for a fatal crash that involved an underage drinker.

The Wesley Chapel Brewmasters restaurant and parent company Marvels Inc. were sued in June by the mother of the teenager who died. In a response filed in Pasco Circuit Court, the company says driver Jason Chee Don, then 19, was not served alcohol at the restaurant before the July 19, 1999, crash on State Road 54 that killed passenger Christopher Tobey, 18.

But if Don was served at the restaurant, then it was only because he used fake identification and the lawsuit is invalid, the response states.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Don was driving from the restaurant in a borrowed pickup truck going faster than the 45 mph speed limit, and had a blood-alcohol level above the 0.08 limit at which the state presumes that someone is impaired.

Tobey was thrown from the truck when it crashed. As he lay in the road, he was run over by a passing car and died at the scene.

Don was paralyzed from the chest down in the crash.

Neither teen was wearing a seat belt when the truck crashed near Old Cypress Creek Road, according to the FHP, and the restaurant maintains the men should therefore bear some of the responsibility.