You can get real-time updates on the hearing by following FOX 17′s Darren Cunningham’s tweets.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A man who died after falling to his death at the B.O.B. last spring had cocaine in his system, according to an expert witness.
But the narcotic was not a contributing factor in 36-year-old Kevin O’Brien’s fall, said Dr. David Stark, a forensic pathologist, who testified during a Liquor Control Commission meeting Thursday. There was a trace of cocaine in O’Brien’s system, but the drug breaks down quickly and it wasn’t enough to be a contributing factor in the fall, said Stark. O’Brien’s blood alcohol content was 0.25, three times more than the legal limit.
The B.O.B. faces three charges from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission in the death of O’Brien: selling to an intoxicated person, allowing an intoxicated person to consume more alcohol, and allowing him to loiter.
O’Brien is one of three people who have fallen to their deaths at The B.O.B. in the past four years. He fell four stories in an interior stairwell May 12, 2013, and died the next day.
In April 2013, Central Michigan University student Zachary Bunting, 21, also fell down an interior stairwell and died.
Back in 2009, another man fell down a staircase at the B.O.B. Tylor Usher of Dorr had been celebrating his 21st birthday with friends when he fell 30 feet. He died two days later from a head injury he received in the the fall.
Last spring, a witness told FOX 17 what happened during the hours before Kevin O’Brien fell off the staircase at the popular nightclub. The witness wanted to remain anonymous but told FOX 17 he was part of a group that included O’Brien that had taken a private party bus from bar to bar. He said he first ran into O’Brien at Monte’s bar on Bridge Street at around 11:30 p.m. and joined the group. He said the group then traveled to the Grand Woods bar at around midnight, where they continued to drink, including O’Brien.
The witness went on to say that between 1:00 a.m. and 1:15 a.m., the bus arrived at The B.O.B., and the group continued drinking. He believed at some point O’Brien may have separated from the larger portion of the group after he ran into an ex-girlfriend. He said he apparently expressed to someone he had a desire to leave and may have struck off on his own at some point into the stairwell.
Just before 2:00 a.m., O’Brien fell.
The Gilmore family, owners of The B.O.B., issued a statement about the incidents in which people had fallen:
On behalf of the staff of The B.O.B and The Gilmore Collection, our hearts and our prayers go out to all of the friends and family members of Kevin O’Brien and Zachary Bunting.
When we founded The B.O.B In 1995 we wanted to create something unique and fun and bring the community together in an urban setting. As we look back over the past 17 years, we have had the opportunity to create jobs for over 220 great staff who have actually had the chance to become friends with many of our patrons.
Throughout this time we have had the opportunity to serve over 8 million guests. We have also been honored to give back to this great community of ours through countless donations, fundraisers and events like Soup’s On and Laughfest. The goal of the B.O.B. becoming a destination in our city and helping attract people to our downtown, has been achieved.
Never in a million years could we ever conceive of the horrible tragedies that have occurred. Unfortunately, what we have learned through the investigations is that two of the tragedies were the result of people making poor personal decisions. The most recent tragedy is still under investigation by Grand Rapids Police.
We are grateful to the first-responders and the Grand Rapids Police Department for the thorough, professional work they have done under sad circumstances.
Grand Rapids Police have told us that their investigations have shown:
In 2009 a young man was racing his brother down the stairwell and fell when he jumped across trying to beat his brother.
In April of 2013 Zachary Bunting decided to “ride” the rail and he went over the edge in the process.
Authorities are still investigating what led to Kevin O’Brien’s death.
The B.O.B continues to meet all building requirements and codes of our city. We have recently begun to explore some possible layout changes, and will continue to do so. Whatever adjustments may come of this, we know not all accidents or personal decisions that lead to tragedy can be prevented.
The safety and security of our guests and employees has been and will remain our top priority. We love all of our patrons and our city very much. We see these situations as a tremendous loss for the families, friends and the community as a whole.
Please join us in extending our deepest sympathies to their family and friends.
The Gilmore Family