Wrongful death lawsuit filed in fatal crash that killed 18-year-old Rochester woman

Wrongful death lawsuit filed in fatal crash that killed 18-year-old Rochester woman

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Aug. 17—A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against a Rochester bar and the driver of a vehicle who was allegedly drunk when he crashed into an 18-year-old woman’s car in February, killing her when she was just blocks from her home.

In the lawsuit, the family of Erika Cruz contends that Image of Rochester, Inc., which does business as the 63 Club, “made an unlawful sale of intoxicating beverages,” to Sterling Haukom, who “negligently, carelessly and unlawfully drove his car causing his car to collide with a car driven by Erika Cruz.”

Haukom, 34, is charged in Olmsted County District Court with felony criminal vehicular homicide and gross misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Aug. 26.

Haukom was held on bail $30,000 conditional bail and $100,000 unconditional bail at the Olmsted County Adult Detention Center until early May. Court records indicate he posted bail on May 3, but was arrested on May 25 for allegedly violating his conditions of release. He is now being held on $100,000 unconditional bail.

Cruz, 18, was on her way home from work on Feb. 24 when her vehicle was hit at the intersection of Eighth Avenue and 12th Street Southeast. She died as a result of her injuries. Cruz’s family and friends held a vigil days after her death at the intersection where the crash occurred.

The civil case, which seeks more than $50,000 in damages, is on hold until the criminal matter concludes. The lawsuit alleges that the 63 Club unlawfully sold Haukom alcohol when he was “obviously drunk,” which is contrary to state statute which prohibits the sale of alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person.

Cruz’s family states in the filing that her death caused them the loss of “care, comfort, guidance and support” of Cruz.

In its answer, Image of Rochester, Inc. denies allegations that it made any unlawful sale of alcohol to Haukom or that any alleged unlawful sale to Haukom “was a direct cause of the subject accident or death of Erika Cruz.” A response has not been filed by Haukom. The lawsuit was filed in Olmsted County District Court.

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