Our view: Death of man who jumped in Fox River in Algonquin should prompt look at liquor policies

Ultimately, Ernest Prentic’s decision to jump into the Fox River on June 1 is what caused his tragic death.

However, the village of Algonquin should take a hard look at its standards for establishments in the village to ensure that restaurant and bar owners and employees are in compliance with the village’s liquor code, including prohibitions on overserving.

Police still are investigating some aspects of the case, Algonquin Deputy Police Chief Ryan Markham has said. He has declined to elaborate, but we hope the village is considering consequences for Nero’s Pizza and Pub, the establishment Prentic was chased out of the night he died.

Whether the consequences be a fine, liquor license suspension or license revocation, a man dying after a night at a local bar warrants some consideration.

Nero’s has declined to comment, and while we don’t know what the establishment’s policies to prevent overserving are, the fact that a man died after drinking there warrants some investigation and consequences.

Police reports show that Prentic had recently stopped taking his medication and had ordered a dozen drinks at Nero’s Pizza and Pub in less than two hours on the night of his death. Prentic had started drinking before he went to the bar, his girlfriend told police.

The results from the toxicology report showed Prentic’s blood-alcohol concentration was 0.170 percent. The legal limit for driving in Illinois is 0.08 percent. Prentic’s level was more than double that limit.

Prentic was chased out of Nero’s when he failed to pay a $68 tab. His bill included two Jagermeister shots, five shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey and five “Jager bombs,” a cocktail of Red Bull and Jagermeister, according to his receipt. Some employees told police Prentic was sharing the shots.

Several employees told police that Prentic also ordered two mini pitchers of beer for himself, but only drank one. They also said Prentic shared the shots with other customers. They estimated Prentic had about four shots himself, but didn’t know exactly how much he had to drink.

A Nero’s employee told police that Prentic seemed “intoxicated but not drunk” earlier in the night, then said that later he sat down and “it all hit him.” Another employee told police that he appeared to be “nodding off” at the bar.

Several employees from Nero’s Pizza and Pub said Prentic had been a regular at the establishment during the four months leading up to his death. One said he was “never a problem” at the business.

It’s ultimately up to an individual to drink responsibly. After all, it is not the serving of liquor that causes intoxication, it is the consumption of liquor that causes intoxication. However, Prentic being overserved and chased for not paying his tab didn’t help the situation.

The village also needs to keep businesses that hold liquor licenses up to village standards.

In Algonquin, it is against village code for a business with a license to sell alcohol to a person who is visibly intoxicated.

“No licensee, associate, member, representative or agent or employee of the licensee shall sell, give or deliver alcoholic liquor either to any intoxicated person,” the village code states.

Violations are punishable by fine, suspension or even revocation of a business’s liquor license, according to the code.

We hope that Algonquin police’s ongoing investigation includes looking into if there were any code violations in this case.

Algonquin Village President John Schmitt has said a situation such as this hasn’t come up in the village during his time as president. We hope the village and other liquor-serving establishments can use this as an opportunity to make sure proper guidelines are in place for serving alcohol, and to make sure those guidelines are enforced.

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