(Update: Since the INDsider broke this story around noon Friday, Bulldog owner Shannon Wilkerson has spoken to us candidly about the night that 18-year-old Kaine Kulka died.
According to Wilkerson, Kulka was asked to leave the bar around 11 p.m. and that Kulka’s friends left with him and returned a short time later without him.
Wilkerson says he can’t confirm that Kulka and later his friends were drinking on a tab being run on Kulka’s credit card, but he says police investigators seized the credit card receipts from the bar shortly after Kulka’s death. “My knowledge is they never even returned our credit card receipts from that night,” says Wilkerson, “so I haven’t had an opportunity to personally review it.”
Wilkerson adds that since Kulka’s death last September, but not as a direct result of it, the Bulldog has instituted a policy in which the person who runs a tab on his or her credit card must also be the person who places drink orders on that tab and that the patron must be 21 years old.
“It’s sad when you hear about a young person dying that you just saw the night before,” Wilkerson says of staff members who were on duty the night Kulka was killed. “As I understand it he wasn’t a regular customer, I don’t know that they knew him on a personal level or anything. But, yeah, everybody was sad when they found out that someone who left [the bar] then passed away.”)
ORIGINAL STORY: A source tells the INDsider that Lafayette Police are pressing prosecutors in state district court to present evidence to a grand jury related to the death last September of an 18-year-old Pennsylvania man who was killed on U.S. 90 after allegedly being served alcohol at a popular Lafayette bar.
Kaine Kulka was struck and killed by a vehicle after he either jumped or fell out of the bed of a pick-up truck at the Southpark Road intersection. Our source close to the investigation says Kulka had run a tab on his own credit card at The Bulldog, a popular hangout on General Mouton Street near the UL campus. According to Kulka’s obituary in his hometown newspaper in Pennyslvania, at the time of his death he was employed by a Houma offshore company and had been a popular student and member of his high school’s wrestling team.
That same source says the state Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control was presented the case but declined to pursue a prosecution. Consequently, Lafayette police brought the case to the attention of local prosecutors and hope a criminal charge — likely negligent homicide — will be filed in the case. Police, however, have declined comment, neither confirming nor denying our information. It’s unclear who — the bar’s owners or one or more employees who served Kulka — could face charges. The source close to the case also tells us Kulka’s family in West Salem Township, Penn., will pursue a civil suit in Lafayette related to the incident.
The crash happened in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2009. A second source tells the INDsider that Kulka had become unruly at the bar and was told to leave, and that several staff members at the Bulldog were extremely distressed when they learned of Kulka’s death.
A call to the Bulldog seeking comment early Friday afternoon went to voicemail.