Survivors of deadly wreck on Route 177 file suit

By Ann Knef | Oct 9, 2007

A 10-count, $500,000 lawsuit was filed against the estate of Myron Schanuel, who last year caused a crash that killed him and five members of the same family on Route 177 in Mascoutah.

Marsha and Joseph Holtz of Mascoutah filed the suit in St. Clair County Circuit Court Sept. 28 over the accident that happened Sept. 30, 2006, just west of town.

According to the suit, Schanuel -- who consumed alcohol at a golf outing during the day and drank at a tavern later on -- was impaired with an alcohol blood level of .220 when he drove a 1995 Chevrolet Tahoe across the center line into a vehicle occupied by members of the Ohren family of Alhambra -- Gary, 40, his wife Lora, 39, and their children Cody, 12, Emily, 7, and Gary's mother Judy Ohren, 64.

Schanuel of Smithton was 45.

After the impact with the Ohren vehicle, Schanuel drove his Tahoe into the Holtz's vehicle, according to the complaint. Schanuel was westbound and the Ohren and Holtz vehicles were eastbound.

Represented by Rhonda D. Fiss of Belleville, the Holtzes claim severe injuries, lost wages and medical and counseling expenses.

The Ohren vehicle was occupied by Marsha Holtz's best friend's family members, the suit says.

The suit also seeks damages from golf tournament sponsor Tower Fire Apparatus, Inc., the village of Okawville, doing business as Okawville Golf Course, and the Blue Room tavern in New Minden.

"On September 30, 2006, Defendant Tower sponsored its annual golf tournament at Okawville Golf Course as a business promotion and good will event, providing food and alcoholic beverages to its employees and tournament participants," the complaint states. "Defendant Schanuel was present at the golf tournament and acting at all times as sales manager, agent and employee of Tower."

The suit claims Tower and the golf course provided an unlimited amount of alcohol to Schanuel when they knew or should have known that he might drive his vehicle from the golf tournament in an impaired state.

It also claims the defendants failed to provide Schanuel transportation and failed to prevent him from driving when they knew he had drunk excessive amounts of alcohol and was in an impaired state.

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