Investigation clears Shannon's restaurant

Friday, June 1, 2007

ST. LOUIS -- A state investigation found no evidence that workers at Mike Shannon's restaurant knew Josh Hancock was drunk when they served the Cardinals pitcher alcohol in the hours prior to his fatal accident.

Peter Lobdell, supervisor of the state Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, said at a news conference Thursday that investigators interviewed four employees of the restaurant and two of Hancock's teammates who were with him that night.

"The investigators determined Hancock was drinking in moderation, socializing with teammates and friends, and employees of Shannon's," Lobdell said. "He did not appear to be intoxicated to any patrons or employees who came forward to be interviewed."

Hancock was driving alone when he died in the early hours of April 29 after his sport utility vehicle struck the back of a flatbed tow truck that was stopped in a driving lane of Interstate 64 assisting a stalled car. The tow truck driver and the car's owner were not hurt.

Police said Hancock had a blood alcohol level of 0.157, nearly twice Missouri's legal limit of 0.08.

Hancock's father, Dean Hancock, of Tupelo, Miss., filed a lawsuit last week naming Shannon's, the tow truck company and operator, and the owner of the stalled car.

-- AP

The suit claims Shannon's workers kept providing drinks to Hancock long after it was clear he was intoxicated.

Lobdell did not name the restaurant workers who were interviewed other than Van Matre. He also refused to name the Cardinals players who were interviewed. In addition, investigators spoke with the woman Hancock was talking to on his cell phone and the manager of the bar at the Westin Hotel, just a few blocks from Shannon's.

Van Matre has said she offered to call a cab for Hancock, but he declined, saying he was walking to the Westin. The bar manager there told investigators he didn't know if Hancock appeared at his bar.

The Cardinals lost to the Chicago Cubs 8-1 in a day game on April 28. Hancock arrived at Shannon's between 8:30 and 9 p.m., Lobdell said. He was one of eight to 10 people in his party, a group that included the two teammates. A teammate picked up a tab for 27 drinks for the entire party between 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Hancock paid a tab for four drinks -- two vodka-mixed drinks and two of the liqueur Frangelico -- at 12:01 a.m. April 29.

The wreck happened 41 minutes later. Lobdell said it wasn't clear how many drinks Hancock had or what specifically he drank.

Hancock was a key member of the bullpen for the 2006 World Series champions. He was 3-3 with a 4.09 ERA in 62 regular-season appearances in 2006. This season, Hancock was 0-1 with a 3.55 ERA in eight games.

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