An alleged drunk driver crashed his pickup truck into a legendary Miami soul food restaurant the weekend before the 4th of July, killing two people and destroying the restaurant’s front. The driver now faces DUI manslaughter charges and multiple charges for driving under the influence, including several charges of DUI with property damage.
At about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, 2012, several men were standing outside Jumbo’s Restaurant in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood. Ken Knight, on of Jumbo’s owners, was talking to two regulars of the restaurant, Wilton Harris and Al Jo Hamlin. Harris and Hamlin, both of whom were pastors, had reportedly just come from a memorial for a Jumbo’s waitress who had died of cancer. Suddenly, according to Knight, a white pickup truck veered off of the street, into the parking lot, and directly towards the restaurant. Other witnesses said they saw the truck speed up as it approached Jumbo’s. Knight said he heard a boom and a crash. The pickup truck had hit a car parked in front of the restaurant, pushing it through the restaurant’s glass windows. The collision threw Hamlin through the window into the restaurant. Knight found Harris pinned under a truck. Both men were killed on impact. About eleven people were in the restaurant, but none of them were injured.
Jumbo’s, which was celebrating its fifty-seventh anniversary, is an important part of Miami’s history. When Miami was still a segregated city in 1967, it was one of the first restaurants to integrate its kitchen staff and dining room. It has had difficulties in recent years, including significant damage from Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and decreased business due to the recession. The owners are hopeful that the community and city will support the restaurant’s recovery.
The driver of the pickup truck, Antonio Lawrence, according to several witnesses the night of June 30, did not get out of his truck for almost five minutes, and appeared dazed when he did get out. He also, according to witnesses, attempted to dispose of liquor in the truck. Police took him into custody at the scene. Prosecutors charged him with two counts of DUI manslaughter the following Monday, as wells as one count of DUI and five counts of property damage DUI. Prosecutors told the court that Lawrence’s blood alcohol level that night was .253 percent, which is over three times Florida’s legal limit, .08 percent. They also said police found a half-full bottle of brandy in the truck. The court set his bond at $36,000.
The criminal justice system tends to deal with drunk driving very harshly, particularly in cases that cause loss of life and significant property damage. A criminal conviction can also assist people injured, or the families of people killed, in pursuing a civil case for damages. The attorneys at Cohn & Smith help recover compensation for South Florida families who have lost loved ones in auto accidents. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our lawyers, contact us today online, at 954-431-8100, or at 305-624-9186.
More Blog Posts:
Accident from a DUI driver, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, June 20, 2012
Caught up in a Car chase, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, May 25, 2012
Photo credit: ‘miami’ by idea22 on stock.xchng.