June 19, 2009: Jena Pothier, an 18 year old Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts resident, has died as the result of personal injuries sustained in a car accident. Jena Pothier was a passenger in a motor vehicle driven by 17 year old, Kelly McCarron, also of Oak Bluffs. McCarron lost control of her Toyota Camry and collided with a tree on Edgartown-West Tisbury Road on Martha’s Vineyard. Kelly McCarron was thrown from the vehicle and was seriously injured.
Pothier was transported to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and pronounced dead late Thursday night. McCarron was taken off the island by boat and driven to a Boston, Massachusetts hospital because a Med Flight was impossible due to heavy fog in the area. McCarron remains in stable condition at Massachusetts General Hospital. Pothier was a 2008 graduate of Martha’s Vineyard High School. McCarron was due to graduate this past weekend.
McCarron faces criminal charges for violations including vehicular homicide and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol as well as civil charges for passing in a no passing zone and driving with excessive speed. The arraignment has not yet been scheduled.
West Tisbury police, with the help of eyewitnesses, have confirmed that McCarron passed a vehicle in a no passing zone while another car was oncoming. Speed and alcohol were both official factors in the crash.
Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the girls’ night prior to the accident. When the details become clearer about where the girls had been drinking, there will be questions about who is ultimately responsible for this tragic accident.
Under Massachusetts law, when someone is killed in a drunk driving accident liability may attach against responsible parties other than just the driver. In cases where the driver had been drinking in a bar or restaurant, the law has held the establishment responsible under “dram shop liability.” When the driver had been drinking at a private individual’s house, the owner could be found liable under “social host” liability theories.
Both types of claims require proof that the bar or social host knew or should have known that the driver was intoxicated, yet continued to serve him or her. There are other factors, which would complicate the question of liability, including the possibility that Pothier was also drinking and knowingly entered the car with knowledge that McCarron was intoxicated.
Source: Martha’s Vineyard Gazette