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TABC, judge recommend pulling store's liquor license

A North Richland Hills store that sold alcohol to a minor who was involved in traffic accident last summer that killed three North Texas teens may have its liquor license revoked, according to recommendations by the staff of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and an Administrative Law Judge.

Sixteen-year-old Michael Fresch of North Richland Hills bought two cases and a six-pack of beer from Glenview Quick Mart in North Richland Hills in August, according to state documents.

A few hours later, Fresch, driver Ryan Lowe, 17, of Springtown and 14-year-old Morgan Moss of Boyd were killed when the truck they were in crashed through a fence and hit two trees in rural Wise County. Paige Owens of Keller, who was 15 at the time, was paralyzed and Pricilla Hatcher of Fort Worth, then 15, was seriously injured.

The recommendation comes after an administrative hearing was held earlier this month against the store at 8015 Glenview Drive and its corporate owner, Kutchins Enterprise Inc.

It could take several months before a final decision is reached, attorneys said Monday.

“It’s still early in the process,” said John Gamboa of Fort Worth, an attorney for the store and owner. “But the judge didn’t find any criminal negligent in the allegations.”

Sandra Patton of Houston, a TABC attorney, said Monday that the judge had agreed to cancel the store’s permit.

“He took the recommendation of the staff,” Patton said.

The store, its corporate owner and Marshall Shane Lowe of Springtown also are named as defendants in a lawsuit filed last year by Kimberly Tidwell. Tidwell is Paige Owens’ mother. Marshall Lowe owns the 2007 Chevrolet 1500 extended-cab truck that his son was driving in the crash. The lawsuit filed in Wise County is pending.

State documents gave this account of the incident:

The purchase

Lowe and Fresch picked up the girls about 7 p.m. on Aug. 3, 2007 from Hatcher’s home in Fort Worth. They drove to North Richland Hills where the beer was purchased and drove to Wise County for a party and stayed with a friend for a few hours. The five were traveling to stay overnight with a friend when their vehicle left the road about 4 a.m. on Aug. 4, 2007.

The accident

According to a Texas Department of Public Safety report, alcohol and speed were factors in the accident. A full 12-ounce bottle of Coors Light and a bottle of Smirnov malt liquor were found in the truck, the DPS reports state.

The autopsies

The blood alcohol level for driver Ryan Lowe was 0.12. For Moss, it was 0.70. And it was 0.60 for Fresch. In Texas, someone with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent is considered legally intoxicated. The autopsies also indicated a measurable amount of marijuana in Lowe and Fresch.

More problems at store

After the North Richland Hills store was identified as selling to a minor on Aug. 3, 2007, TABC officials conducted a surveillance on the business on Aug. 31, 2007. According to state documents, a clerk sold alcohol to eight minors in the two hours that TABC watched the store. The minors were issued tickets and the clerk, Kishor Shrestha, was arrested for the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors.