Source: Grand jury might hear case against local bar, employees
(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.
MAY 24 Blogger Robert Mann posts this entry about the Baton Rouge Chamber's recent report on Louisiana's higher education system. It's critical to economic development, and yet our system is facing a "funding crisis" with no way to resolve it, the report says. The Chamber says control of tuition and fees must be returned to the higher ed governing boards.
MAY 24 Here's a NBC33 story about Tyrann Mathieu. He has signed with the Arizona Cardinals, inking a $3 million, four-year deal. He gets a signing bonus of $265K, but gets another, larger bonus if he doesn't get cut from the team for doing drugs. The deal reportedly includes mandatory tests and meetings for the player.
MAY 24 Jarvis DeBerry posts here about the redonkulus rhetoric that would have us believe NOLA is a safe city with a murder problem. Maybe the city's crime stats don't compare with its murder stats because you can't manipulate a murder, he says: a dead body's a dead body. It just doesn't make sense, he says, and his readers agree: a poll asks if they believe the city is safe, and more than 90 percent say no.
MAY 24 Jindal administration officials announced Thursday that the privatization of public health care is going to cost a lot more than they budgeted for, the Advocate reports here. "I'm so surprised," said no one. Anywhere. The cost they're projecting now is more than $1 billion - a lot more than the $626 million budgeted for it. And, it's more than it cost the state to operate those hospitals. So why are we doing this again?
MAY 24 Blogger CB Forgotston ridicules the recent PR campaign by the state GOP in the wake of a legislative auditor's request to both major parties. The GOP (apparently unaware that the Dems got the same request) started yammering about being targeted because it had "killed" a tax increase. CB finds that laughable, but it's also pretty funny that the GOP was comparing this episode to the IRS scandal (Because the President has so much to do with our state auditor. Right?).
MAY 24 Politico details some recent fund-raising efforts by Sen. David Vitter, which have raised the question of his future political plans. This time, it is a $5,000 per head "bayou weekend" that includes "Cajun cooking" and an all-caps "alligator hunt," the story reports. Funds raised go to a super PAC that can spend money to support Vitter in federal or state races, the story points out.
MAY 24 The pink building on Royal in the quarter was sold at a sheriff's sale Thursday, this Picayune story reports. An injunction that would have halted the sale wasn't enforced because the family failed to post a $150,000 bond, the story reports. So the owner of the mortgages on the building bought it, for nearly $7 million. Now the feuding family will have to negotiate with that company to get a lease on the building that has housed their business for close to 60 years.
MAY 23 This post in Louisiana Voice tells us about a bill by a Winnsboro lege that would require all public high school students to take at least one Course Choice online class in order to graduate. (What?) Blogger Tom Aswell says it's a monument to "waste and corruption," especially in light of the problems he's exposed with the program in recent weeks. Idaho had a similar program, but voters removed it by a 2-1 margin, Aswell says.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.