Originally created 01/19/00

Suit filed in Lively car crash



Shayna C. Lively isn't the only one liable for the deaths of a father and two babies in a drunken-driving crash, a civil lawsuit alleges.

Lorenzo D. Hearns, as the administrator of the estate of Dexter Bernard Hearns, filed a lawsuit in Richmond County Superior Court on Thursday against Ms. Lively, who caused the deadly wreck on Interstate 20 on Jan. 11, 1999. But he also is suing her mother, grandmother, the owner and operator of the Augusta restaurant where she drank before the wreck and the owner of the convenience store where she bought gasoline just before the crash.

At about 1:30 a.m. Jan. 11 on I-20 near Graniteville in Aiken County, Mr. Hearns, 31, was traveling west. His 18-month-old and 3-year-old daughters were strapped in car seats in the back. Ms. Lively, then 19, was driving a Ford Contour the wrong way on the interstate and crashed into Mr. Hearns' vehicle head-on. He and the children died.

In May, Ms. Lively pleaded guilty in Aiken County Circuit Court to three felony counts of driving under the influence. She received a 25-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.

According to the lawsuit, Ms. Lively did not have a valid driver's license, but her grandmother, Gay Osborne, and her mother, Diana Lively, allowed her to drive Ms. Osborne's car the night of Jan. 10, 1999. Ms. Lively and a friend met two others at Amigo's Mexican Restaurant on Gordon Highway.

"They ordered several pitchers of beer which they drank," the lawsuit reads. "She was not checked for her identification and was provided alcoholic beverages that substantially contributed to her intoxication that evening."

According to medical tests performed after the fatal crash, Ms. Lively's blood-alcohol level was 0.218, more than double the limit at which point a driver is presumed to be drunk.

The lawsuit also names Baldemar Sanchez and Jose Grandos, the owner of the restaurant building and alcohol license and the operator of the restaurant, respectively.

The lawsuit also names R.&H. Maxxon Inc., which owned and operated Depot Food Store No. 118 on U.S. Highway 25 at the I-20 interchange. Ms. Lively spent about an hour at the store and bought $2 worth of gas, according to the lawsuit. Ms. Lively obviously was intoxicated, the lawsuit contends, and the store manager should not have sold her the gas so she could continue to drive.

The lawsuit seeks not only compensatory damages for injuries, pain and suffering, and funeral and burial expenses but also punitive damages intended to deter each defendant from similar conduct in the future.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226.