Lawsuit alleges ‘hard-partying bar’ overserved former CCU football player before fatal crash

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 11:51 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 5, 2022 at 8:30 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – A former Conway area bar is accused of over-serving an ex-Coastal Carolina University football player involved in a deadly 2020 crash along Highway 544.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed on April 1 by the estate of Timothy Shulkcum lists American Tavern and Riley Patton as defendants.

The suit alleges that on Jan. 24, 2020, Patton arrived with several others at American Tavern, located at 702 Highway 544. The location is now home to Crooked Floor Tavern.

Patton was reportedly a graduate assistant for CCU football at the time and a former long snapper for the club.

The lawsuit described American Tavern as a “hard-partying bar where CCU students—including underage students—could drink excessive amounts of liquor with very little (if any) regulation or oversight by the bartenders.”

Patton, who was 23 at the time of the incident, was already drunk when he arrived at the bar after “pregaming” for several hours, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Patton and his friends consumed “10 to 15 Vodka drinks” at American Tavern, in addition to several shots of hard liquor.

“While at American Tavern, Patton was extremely drunk, visibly intoxicated, and by all recognized standards of safe alcohol service (and South Carolina law), should not have been served alcohol in the manner that he was,” the lawsuit stated.

Despite being visibly intoxicated, Patton walked past American Tavern’s security guard and got behind the wheel of his pickup truck and drove off, the lawsuit stated.

According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, Patton was driving eastbound on Highway 544 near Cabots Creek Drive when he ran into the center median and hit a Ford truck and a pedestrian, identified as 55-year-old Timothy Shulkcum.

Shulkcum was pronounced dead at the scene.

The lawsuit alleges that American Tavern’s negligence contributed to Shulkcum’s death. Patton, according to the lawsuit, had a duty to operate his vehicle in a safe manner but failed to do so, as he was under the influence of alcohol.

Shulkcum’s estate is seeking damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.

Patton was initially charged with felony DUI resulting in death, but pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in August 2021 under South Carolina’s Youthful Offender Act, according to 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office spokesperson Tonya Root.

Patton was sentenced to five years in prison, suspended to three years probation. He was also ordered to submit to random drug and alcohol tests.

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