Increased drinking and driving concerns in Connecticut

Concerns about drunk driving after concerts
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 7:14 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - The U.S. Department of Transportation said Connecticut is now the third in the country with alcohol-related fatalities.

The parents of a Farmington teen who was killed by a drunk driver sued “Live Nation” for failing to prevent excessive drinking at their concerts at the Xfinity theater in Hartford.

Father of Luke Roux, Stephen Roux, expressed his thoughts on the increasing amount of drunk driving.

“Nothing has changed since our son was taken from us, nothing,” said Stephen. “People are still going to concerts. People are still getting behind the wheel and drinking and driving.”

Stephen and Carri Roux’s lives have drastically changed since their 17-year-old son was killed.

Days after graduating high school, Luke was coming home from playing baseball when he was hit at this Farmington intersection near Colt Highway.

Police said the driver, 21-year-old Jacob Coffey, was going 82 miles an hour, drove through a red light, and slammed into Luke Roux’s car.

Coffey’s blood alcohol was twice the legal limit. Police also found empty cans of beer and alcohol in Coffey’s jeep.

Coffey had been tailgating near a concert at the Xfinity theater in Hartford.

The Roux’s lawsuit against Coffey as well as Live Nation claimed that Live Nation “permitted patrons to loiter and consume alcoholic beverages in the “parking lots” before the concert and should have known “there would be a substantial number of arrests, criminal acts and motor vehicle accidents.”

“If just one family hears this and makes a change, and one life is saved then we’ve done something,” said Carri.

Dr. Steven Wolf is very familiar with the problems outside the concerts as the former director of emergency services at Saint Francis Hospital between 2003 and 2021.

“It ranged from they were sleeping it off waiting for their parents to pick them up to combative required restraint,” said Dr. Wolf. “Required intubation is they were so comatose they couldn’t protect their airway and breath properly.”

The concerts drew as many as 30 thousand people. Dr. Wolf said many are drunk and out of control.

There was tailgating at parking lots around the theater; the city of Hartford owned 5 of those lots and leased them to Live Nation.

The city said they collected more than 100 thousand a year.

Hartford police Lt. Aaron Boisvert said there was drinking in these city-owned lots and there were police to handle the traffic but not enough officers to patrol these lots.

Lt. Boisvert said, “when you are working at a venue, and you have tens of thousands of cars leaving you are not stopping every one of those cars to see if a driver is impaired.”

The topic came up about what can be done better with the situation at hand.

“That’s a good question, how about personal responsibility,” said Lt. Boisvert.

Another question remained about whether the city government is doing enough.

“You’re asking the little guy here. Is it enough? Clearly there are people drinking in those lots,” said Lt. Boisvert.

Channel 3 reached out to Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin requesting an interview. He referred to police and sent a statement, saying “police have a visible presence and always works hard together with the Live Nation team to support Xfinity Theatre, promote a safe environment, and encourage safe behavior on crowded concert nights.”

Dr. Wolf doesn’t think it’s a safe environment at all saying, “it was akin to the genie being let out of the bottle because this had been going on for years.”

Back in December, Live Nation said, “Jacob Coffey was denied entry to the venue due to intoxication.”

However, a few days later they sent a new statement, saying the “Xfinity theater has no record of Jacob Coffey being denied entry, being at the venue or being intoxicated at the venue.”

Jacob Coffey faces years in prison, but it was hard for Carri to see him in court.

She and Stephen want people to know what happened to their son and make better decisions before they drive.

“We are trying to figure out how we as a family can help our community and beyond, so this doesn’t happen to somebody else,” said Carri.

Jacob Coffey has plead guilty and will be sentenced in June.

We reached out again to Live Nation for this story. and they have not yet responded.