UPDATE: Driver in fatal Fanatics crash was highly intoxicated - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Driver in fatal Fanatics crash was highly intoxicated

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - UPDATE: An autopsy report shows the man who drove into a pole outside a Chattanooga sports bar was highly intoxicated when he died. 

Police tell Channel 3, Woodlee was driving 43-44 mph when he hit the pole.

The report, obtained by Channel 3, shows 53 year-old John Woodlee had a blood alcohol level of 0.197, more than twice the legal limit.

Woodlee also had traces of antidepressants and seizure medication in his blood. 

Chattanooga Police say surveillance video shows Woodlee getting into his car and crashing head on into a pole outside Fanatics Sports Bar & Grill on East Brainerd Road.

Woodlee, who was the only person in the car, died in the crash. No one else was injured.

Since the crash, the DUI unit and regulatory bureau have been investigating Woodlee's time at Fanatics, leading up to the crash. If investigators find reason to believe Fanatics over-served the victim, then the case will go before the Chattanooga Beer Board. 

If the Chattanooga Beer Board takes up the issue it would be the second time this year the sports bar has been in trouble with the board. The board suspended the businesses' beer license in March after an employee hit a Chattanooga firefighter on her way home from work on Super Bowl Sunday. The employee, Andrea Payne, had allegedly been drinking while on the job. 


PREVIOUS STORY: Chattanooga Police say surveillance video shows the driver, 53-year-old John Lee Woodlee, getting into his car and crashing head on into a pole before ever leaving the parking lot.

"He is very clearly staggering to his car, he back outs, hits three or four cars," said Lt. Adrian Gibb, "And then plows through the parking lot and hits a pole head on."

John Woodlee, 53, died in the crash. It happened in the 7600 parking lot on East Brainerd Rd.

Woodlee was the only person in the car. No one else was injured.

The car's impact left the light pole dented and coming out of the ground.

"That's a minimum, from my experience, of 40 mile an hour impact," Lt. Gibb said, "Minimum."
    
Investigators are working two separate cases to figure out what happened. The traffic division is handling the fatal crash and now the DUI unit and regulatory bureau are investigating the victim's time at Fanatics Sports Bar & Grill.
 
"They actually said at one point they cut him off," Lt. Gibb said, "But I don't know what time or where that started."
    
Lt. Gibb says the owner of Fanatics is cooperating. He was not at the scene Tuesday night, but police say he is handing over surveillance video and customer receipts.
    
It will help determine if managers at this bar were involved in the driver's death.

"Right now we're looking at a possible over-serve, or serving to an intoxicated party," said Inspector John Collins, "A lot of that will be a result of what we get from the receipts, what we get from the toxicology report and witness statements."

Investigators had a difficult time tracking down Woodlee's family, they believe he is a recent resident to Chattanooga.

Lt. Gibb says there is no record of Woodlee in this state but he did have a Tennessee driver's license.

Police say all bars and restaurants have options when a customer has had too much to drink. If a customer demands to leave on their own, call police.

"That's actually required by law to call us, if someone's intoxicated, trying to leave an establishment like that," Lt. Gibb said, "There's several ways to handle it, call them a cab, they have a lot of options in front of them to keep someone from leaving a bar drunk."

If investigators find reason to believe Fanatics over-served the victim, then the case will go before the Chattanooga Beer Board.

Fanatics is going to be closed for three days starting March 19th, that's its punishment from the Beer Board after an employee was first drinking on the job and then hit a Chattanooga firefighter on her way home Super Bowl Sunday.

The owner of Fanatics was not at the establishment on Wednesday. Calls to his lawyer have not been yet been returned.

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