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Families of girls killed by alleged drunken driver file civil suit

Sean Doogan
Anchorage Police Dept.

The families of Brooke McPheters and Jordyn Durr, 15-year-old best friends who were killed by an alleged drunken driver on Aug. 9, 2013, have filed a civil suit in Alaska Superior Court against the man accused of killing their daughters.

On May 30, the families sued 32-year-old Stacey Allen Graham, who police said was driving the truck that left the road last summer, hitting and killing the girls as they walked home from a back-to-school shopping trip along Dimond Boulevard. Graham's employer, Puget Sound Pipe and Supply Co. and another, unnamed company are also identified as defendants in the suit.

Durr and McPheters' families have asked for more than $100,000 in damages from each defendant in the case.

Graham currently faces two counts of murder in the second degree and two counts of manslaughter as well as a charge of driving under the influence in state criminal court. His trial has been delayed several times and is currently set to begin later this month. He remained in custody at Goose Creek Correctional Center as of Monday.

According to court records, Graham, who worked as a salesman for Puget Sound Pipe and Supply, attended a company-sponsored golf tournament several hours before he hit the girls with his truck. A report submitted by an Anchorage police officer who responded to the scene claimed Graham's blood-alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit of .08 after the wreck. A toxicology report, submitted by the state, said Graham also had marijuana in his system at the time of the crash.

The families of Durr and McPheters claim in the lawsuit that Graham was over-served alcohol -- booze that they claim was provided during the golf tournament -- before he hit and killed the teens. The lawsuit claims Graham's employer is liable for the wreck because it provided the alcohol to employees participating in the golf tournament.

Company representatives admitted alcohol was served at the golf tournament -- which was held at a course on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson -- but did not know if Graham had been drinking during the tournament.

"No Puget Sound Pipe employee witnessed Mr. Graham in any type of impaired state, at any point during the tournament or during the lunch that immediately followed the tournament," Puget Sound Pipe and Supply Alaska manager Scott English said.

English claimed that Graham had carpooled to the golf tournament. English also said that his company did not serve the alcohol at the event itself but instead contracted with the golf course for beverage service.

He said that the deaths of Durr and McPheters were a tragedy that has deeply affected his employees and the Anchorage community.

A second company, identified only as "Company X," is also named in the lawsuit. Company X is liable because it too served Graham alcohol after he was already intoxicated, according to the lawsuit.

The Durr family lawyer, Christine Schleuss, said she was working to determine the identity of Company X. She said it was a local restaurant and/or bar that allegedly served Graham after the golf tournament was over, just before the fatal wreck.

"We need to get more information ... but until we are confident the info is correct we are not going to name them," Schleuss said.

Schleuss said monetary compensation is not the family's priority in filing the lawsuit.

"One of their big concerns is to deter other companies and other establishments from serving people until they are drunk, or continuing to serve a drunk patron," Schleuss said.

 


By SEAN DOOGAN
sean@alaskadispatch.com