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The talent buyer/manager of Humphreys Backstage Lounge, Jeremiah Smith, was arrested for felony drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter after Smith’s GMC truck reportedly struck and killed a man on Interstate 8 near Lakeside.

The L.A. Times reported that a 42-year-old Mexicali man was standing on the freeway shoulder next to a vehicle speaking to his wife following mechanical problems to one of their cars.

The accident, which occurred at 4:10 a.m. on Saturday, January 26, threw the man hundreds of feet. He died at the scene.

Smith was arrested and held on $100,000 bail.

An insider close to Humphreys’ staff reported that there was an immediate reaction to the fatal accident from Humphreys management: two bartenders and one barback were fired. The insider says that the three employees were terminated because they engaged in after-hours drinking with Smith.

“That is complete bullshit,” says the insider. “They were there having their shift drink after the bar was closed, just like they have done for years and years. They have cameras up the ass all around Humphreys [Lounge]. These guys have been taking their completely legal after-closing-shift drinks since 1975, or whenever, and all the managers knew it. Now they want to fire the underlings because their boss got too drunk and killed somebody. That guy [Smith] was the boss of these guys who were fired. He could just go around the bar and help himself to as much booze as he wants. It wasn’t like these bartenders overserved him. He was their boss. One of these bartenders who got fired had been there for 28 years.”

Sergio Davies, general manager of Humphreys, responded this way about Smith’s arrest: “This is not a story. It is too early, and the facts are not all in.” But what about the three fired employees? “What happens to employees on our property, we don’t divulge that information.”

Because Smith was so closely tied to booking bands at Humphreys, some local musicians wondered if Smith’s legal problems may impact Humphreys’ entertainment schedule.

Mike Blake, Humphreys food-and-beverage manager who oversaw Smith, says there are no changes afoot in their seven-night-a-week live-music commitment. “We are still going to have the same mix of blues, jazz, rock, and ’80s that we have always had.”

The 160-capacity Humphreys Backstage Lounge has just undergone significant interior improvements, including upgrades to its sound system.

“It’s too bad this happened right now,” says a local promoter. “Now that [the 300-capacity] Anthology has gone away, this means that Humphreys could arrive as the premier San Diego venue to host all the smaller national touring acts that aren’t big enough for the Belly Up or the House Blues. But, I guess they could still pull it off.”

In January, Humphreys presented blues players Robin Henkel, Chet Cannon, and Bill Magee; smooth-jazz musicians Jesse Davis and Stelita; and Beatles and Billy Joel tribute acts.

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dpratcliffe Feb. 7, 2013 @ 5:11 p.m.

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Visduh Feb. 12, 2013 @ 8 p.m.

That case on the freeway had a little more to it than included here. The vic was a Mexican national who was towing one vehicle with another, neither of them new or nearly new. The tow vehicle broke down or had a "problem", and he pulled onto the shoulder of I-8 and went back to talk to his wife who was apparently following him in convoy. While standing on the shoulder of the freeway, next to the traffic lane, talking to her through the drivers window, he was struck and killed. Sad case for sure.

But let's remember, if we can, that those freeways are "no man's land", and you don't just stroll back to chat with the driver of a car that stopped behind you. Anywhere within five to ten feet of the traffic lanes is most hazardous, and if he'd used his head and walked on the shoulder side of the car, he'd likely still be alive. Anyone who attempts to do more than the minimum of getting out of the way and getting real help, not the usual "call my brother-in-law and he'll show up" is asking for it. If your car, truck, RV, bus, or Abrams M-1 tank breaks down on the freeway, exit the freeway. If you cannot do that, then pull to the right as far as possible before stopping, keep the stopped vehicle between you and the traffic, and then wait. Blaming the victim? No, but for pity's sake, don't put yourself in harm's way just because of a car problem! I-8 isn't some sleepy dirt road in a village in Mexico, it's a superhighway and people drive fast. In that Lakeside area, the speed limit shifts from 65 to 70, and that's just a rate of travel that allows no margin for error.

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Ken Harrison Feb. 15, 2013 @ 5:10 a.m.

Good comments Visduh. You should teach traffic school.

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pbSpirits_dot_com Feb. 17, 2013 @ 6:35 p.m.

So, 'Insider' suggests employees have been drinking after hours since 1975. Unfortunately, that's against the law if the shift was after 2am:

Any on- or off-sale licensee, or agent or employee of that licensee, who sells, gives, or delivers to any persons any alcoholic beverage or any person who knowingly purchases any alcoholic beverage between the hours of 2 o'clock a.m. and 6 o'clock a.m. of the same day, is guilty of a misdemeanor. - http://law.onecle.com/california/business/25631.html

Also, the likely reason the employees were fired is that this licensee will no doubt be sued by the victim's surviving family. From my understanding it will be tough because they will likely have to prove employees knowingly over-served their fellow employee (perpetrator).

It's not like that should be hard to prove. A relatively recent SDSU study showed, even after San Diego bar staff are highly trained under the ABC's LEAD program and other Responsible Beverage Service training programs that they will likely chronically over-serve. The study shows that bartenders and staff over-served female pseudo-patrons, who should have been served a single drink an hour, the equivalent of eight drinks - in under fifty minutes - over 90% of the time. (See: http://sandiegoale.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/BarConsumerStudy_Clapp_nihms96250.pdf)

Yet, the odds of a San Diego alcohol licensee getting a citation by the ABC or police is about once every 150 years. (See #4 here: http://www.sandiegoale.com/2012/11/analysis-of-public-safety-costs-for-certain-business/#more-1783)

Unfortunately, this tragedy creates a number of victims, all because bar staff and owners just don't get it. It's not ok to over-serve. Period.

California is a no-dram shop law state so bar owners have little to fear. Too bad.

For more see: http://www.sandiegoALE.com

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