Jeremiah Michael McDougall was only in Lahaina’s Hecocks about 15 minutes. He drank no more than half a bottle of beer. He’d come in the night of Jan. 26, 2005 to see his best friend, who was working that night behind the bar.
The visit and encounter are significant because a few hours later McDougall died in a car accident. Because McDougall—a back-seat passenger—had a high blood alcohol level, the Maui County Department of Liquor chose to pursue Hecocks on two counts related to serving someone already intoxicated (similar charges related to the same incident are also pending against The Sly Mongoose in Lahaina).
Saying that dragging out the matter by trying to defend himself was prohibitively expensive, owner Tom Hecock pleaded no contest at the Aug. 4, 2005 Liquor Control Board of Adjudication hearing. He said the bartender reported to him that McDougall never seemed drunk and might have stopped at another party after leaving his establishment, but admitted he had no proof to back up either assertion.
Board member Lance Collins then asked Hecock how he felt that McDougall drank half a beer at the bar and then got into an accident and died.
“I’ve been doing this for 47 years,” Hecock said. “We don’t have breathalyzers. It’s our call. If [customers] come in and stagger, we don’t serve them. I’m doing everything in my power to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Almost as an after thought, Hecock also mentioned that the bartender who served McDougall and his friends doesn’t work for him anymore. That really perked up board chairman Shigeto “Mustard” Murayama.
“That’s the kind of thing we like to hear,” he said.
“I didn’t fire him,” Hecock said. “He voluntarily quit. I guess he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore.”
Murayama looked almost disappointed that Hecock was standing up for the bartender.
After 30 minutes of deliberation, the board decided to fine Hecocks $2,000—pretty much what the prosecutor had asked for. The matter ended when Murayama inexplicably joked to Hecock, “We don’t want to see you again because our throwing arm isn’t that good.”