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Falls At The B.O.B.

Two men have died and a third injured in falls from staircases at the downtown Grand Rapids entertainment complex known as the B.O.B.

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The B.O.B.’s liquor license has been suspended for 3 days, according to a spokesperson for the state’s liquor control commission. Commissioner Ed Clemente issued the ruling this morning. Two hearings were held; one in January and the other in February.

The death of Kevin O’Brien, 36, spurred the liquor control commission to get involved. O’Brien died after falling from the fourth floor stairwell at the B.O.B. in May 2013. He’s the third person to die in this manner at the B.O.B.

In January 2014, the B.O.B. was charged with serving alcohol to an intoxicated person, over-serving alcohol, and allowing an intoxicated person to loiter.

The business was found guilty on the first two charges and fined $600 as a result.

In a statement, B.O.B. management said it appeal the commission’s decision.

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Feb. 14, 2014) — The B.O.B. liquor hearing resumed Friday in Grand Rapids at the state liquor control commission.

The drinking establishment faces three charges regarding the death of Kevin O’Brien. The 36-year-old died after falling from a fourth-floor railing in the restaurant’s stairwell. He reportedly was trying to slide down the rail.

Charges include serving alcohol to an intoxicated person, overserving alcohol and allowing that person to loiter. The B.O.B. could be fined or have its liquor license revoked or suspended.

Will the B.O.B.’s liquor license be suspended, revoked or will the establishment be fined for the actions leading up to a customer’s death? That’s what’s at stake. The attorneys on both sides made their case, and we heard from B.O.B. owner Greg Gilmore.

Gilmore, who’s CEO of the Gilmore Collection, testified after getting cited by the state liquor control commission. He explained the changes made to his establishment since O’Brien’s deadly fall down the fourth-floor stairwell on May 13, 2013.

Gilmore said, “We enclosed the stairwell… so nobody could ever make another decision to ride the rail, and it’s totally enclosed. We spent another $60,000 on that.”

He said his company spent $50,000 more on a security system for the B.O.B.

The liquor control commissioner will weigh two days worth of testimony from multiple witnesses. On day one, January 16th, we heard from the doctor who examined O’Brien’s toxicology reports. Dr. Stark said he found trace amounts of cocaine in O’Brien’s system. We also heard from the man who said he saw O’Brien fall down the stairwell.

“I reached in to try to grab his legs, but he was too far gone and i just grabbed on to the rail so tightly, looked down. As he was falling down, he hit the rails going down to… Before he hit the floor,” the man remained unidentified at police request.

A friend stated that O’Brien was a regular at the establishment. An acquaintance testified that he ran into O’Brien that night and testified O’Brien appeared drunk and was shifting from side to side.

On the contrary, employees of the B.O.B.  (including a former waitress) testified that O’Brien did not appear intoxicated as they served him alcohol the night of his death.

Commissioner Ed Clemente has 45 days to issue his decision. However, he said he expects to decide much sooner. Clemente said suspending a business’ liquor license isn’t common but it’s not unheard of.

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Testimony began in a case involving the B.O.B. and the most recent deadly fall.  The establishment faces three charges issued by the state liquor control commission.

The charges include serving alcohol to an intoxicated person, over-serving alcohol and allowing that person to loiter. The B.O.B. could be fined or have its liquor license revoked or suspended.

One of the witnesses, who police requested we not identify, says he saw Kevin O’Brien fall down a stairwell to his death.

“I reached in to try to grab his legs, but he was too far gone,” the man said.

He added, “As he was falling down, he hit the rails going down too… before he hit the floor.”

O’Brien’s fall took place May 13, 2013. O’Brien reportedly tried to slide down the fourth floor rail and lost his grip.

“To my knowledge, what I saw as we opened the door to go down, he wasn’t stumbling or tipsy or… in any way or shape,” the witness said.

A forensic pathologist, a detective and an old acquaintance of O’Brien also gave statements. The pathologist spoke of a toxicology report that revealed trace elements of cocaine in O’Brien’s system. The drug was not considered a contributing factor to the fall.

However, the toxicology report also revealed O’Brien’s blood alcohol level was .25. That’s more than three times the legal driving limit. The detective in charge of looking into liquor violations at Grand Rapids’ bars read statements from people that had been interviewed.

“[A friend of O'Brien] and O’Brien had been out drinking all evening. They had been to Mojo’s, The Woods and to the B.O.B. He said that they had spent most of the evening at the B.O.B.”

The question in this case is, “Did staff at the B.O.B. over-serve alcohol to O’Brien?”

That’s the offense the bar is charged with by the state liquor control commission.

B.O.B. owner Greg Gilmore sat quietly as his defense attorney questioned how many drinking establishments O’Brien visited prior to his fatal fall.

Gilmore’s attorney also questioned if the numerous purchases at the B.O.B. on O’Brien’s credit card could have actually been for other members of his group.

More witnesses are expected to testify. The next hearing date still needs to be scheduled. Commissioner Ed Clemente will deliver his decision about 45 days after the final hearing.

O Brien – Kevin fall victimYou 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:

Dear Friends,

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

the bob website graphicGRAND RAPIDS, Mich – The Gillmore Collection has announced a $250,000 dollar investment into The B.O.B. in downtown Grand Rapids that will include entertainment, programming and safety upgrades.

The announcement comes after the Michigan Liquor Control Commission filed charges against the venue after a man fell to his death in the venue in May.

A press release from the Gillmore Collection on the changes/additions is below:

The Gilmore Collection, the finest assemblage of dining and entertainment venues in West Michigan, today announced the company will invest more than $250,000 into entertainment and safety upgrades at The B.O.B. (Big Old Building), one of downtown Grand Rapids’ favorite venues for live entertainment, food and drink.

 The B.O.B. is taking a strong and continuing role in creating a thriving hospitality zone for the city of Grand Rapids, one that is safe, hospitable and builds community.

 “The B.O.B. is a pioneering downtown entertainment venue, and to many people, going downtown means going to The B.O.B.,” said Greg Gilmore, CEO of the Gilmore Collection. “As our marquee property, we want it to continue to be a destination, while evolving as people’s tastes in entertainment change.”

 ENTERTAINMENT ON EVERY FLOOR

Starting in 2014, the B.O.B. will now feature live entertainment on every floor, including a return of the once-popular dueling pianos in Bobarino’s as well as upgrades to Crush at The B.O.B., which will be converted into an intimate space for live music. 

 “Each space within The B.O.B. is to be the destination of choice for discerning individuals and groups who are looking for great, local food and live entertainment,” continued Gilmore.

 In January, Crush will officially become H.O.M.e., an all-new venue for live music. The Gilmore Collection will invest nearly $150,000 to upgrade sound, lighting and stage system as well as transform the space to create a more intimate atmosphere. The transition of H.O.M.e. to a live music venue will begin on January 1 and feature a diverse mix of programming, including, but not limited to jazz, blues, country, R&B, classic rock and pop music. An official grand opening will take place in April.

 “Sixteen years ago, The B.O.B. allowed people to re-think downtown as a destination for dining and music, and we want to give them more quality entertainment, while providing a safe and secure environment,” said Gilmore.

 COMMITMENT TO SAFETY

In addition to entertainment investments, the Gilmore Collection has already taken action and invested $50,000 to enclose its emergency stairwell and installed a new fire suppression system in the stairwell. 

 Other security investments include:   

    • $60,000 on a new security camera system
    • Investments in ID entry scanners to verify customer age and identity
    • Investments in additional staff training to be more engaging with customers and better gauge sobriety

“Our commitment to the safety of our guests is reflected in more than $100,000 in new measures to help them be more responsible as they’re having fun,” said Gilmore. “In addition, we are growing our appreciation for those who hold themselves personally responsible by volunteering to be a designated driver.”

The B.O.B. will continue its free parking program, as space allows, for anyone who dines on-site, as well as an all-new designated driver program. The VIP D.D. of any group of four or more will eat free with the purchase of another meal and receive free soft drinks all night. The B.O.B. is also working with its local taxi partners to better facilitate transportation for individuals deemed unfit to drive.

 The B.O.B. is West Michigan’s premier destination for dining and entertainment. As downtown Grand Rapids’ most versatile venue, The B.O.B. offers a uniquely personal experience for every guest who walks through the door. Its casual appeal, large size and historic charm have given The B.O.B. landmark status in Grand Rapids.

About the Gilmore Collection

Based in Grand Rapids, the Gilmore Collection is Michigan’s leading independent restaurant groups, owning and managing nearly 25 food and entertainment establishments in Michigan and Colorado. The Collection has developed a reputation for delivering tremendous food, beverage, entertainment, atmosphere and hospitality at each of their restaurants. Each establishment features its own flavor and style, which is amplified and preserved with their own rich history, character and architecture.

Man Falls at The B.O.B. – 5.13.13GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A popular downtown venue is facing state charges after a man fell to his death in May.

The B.O.B. is facing three charges from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission in the death of Kevin O’Brien: selling to an intoxicated person, allowing an intoxicated person to consume more alcohol and allowing him to loiter.

O’Brien, 36, is one of three people who have fallen to their death at The B.O.B. in the past four years.  He fell four stories in an interior stairwell May 12 and died the next day.

In April, 21-year-old CMU student Zachary Bunting also fell down an interior stairwell and died.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Less than a week after a deadly fall down a four-story stairwell inside a Grand Rapids nightclub friends and family of the victim, 36-year-old Kevin O’Brien, came together to celebrate his life.

At the same time, others are still calling for changes at the B.O.B. including one man who fell three stories in the same stairwell and lived.

On Thursday night the tragic events at the B.O.B. that killed O’Brien took a back seat to family and friends who gathered at the Diamond Street Hall in Grand Rapids to remember O’Brien’s life.

One such friend was John Koval who said, “He (O’Brien) had a heart of gold and there are instances where I had a problem at my wife’s shop and he was there right away to fix the sink, drop everything just to help out.  And that is the type of person Kevin was.”

His life ended after falling four-stories down a back stairwell early Sunday morning.

O’Brien became the third person to die from a fall at the B.O.B. since 2009.

Ty VanderWall said he nearly lost his life on those same stairs.

“I tried to jump from one side to the other and missed,” said VanderWall.  “I hit the railings on my way down and landed on my back.”

VanderWall was in the hospital after suffering a gash on the head and severe back pain.

He doesn’t blame the B.O.B. for his decision to jump and the injuries that followed.

His fall happened nearly six months ago and in that time he’s watched two others die from falls similar to his own.

VanderWall said after O’Brien’s death he called the B.O.B. to see if anything could be done to improve the safety of the stairs.

“What I was told is they are going to completely enclose, block off that whole center column, so there is no chance at all that this sort of this thing will happen again,” he said.

VanderWall said his goal along with the friends of O’Brien is to prevent an additional group of friends from having to grieve over another life lost.

The Grand Rapids City Manager said he has been in contact with the architect of the B.O.B. about additional safety measures including raising the railing around the stairs.

News
05/16/13

Memorial Planned For B.O.B. Fall Victim

Witness Says Victim Of The Fall At The B.O.B. Was Part Of Party Bus Group

Kevin O’Brien

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An event to remember Kevin O’Brien, who died from injuries suffered in a fall from a stairwell at the B.O.B, is planned for Thursday night.

Friends of O’Brien posted a Facebook event page that says the “memorial event” will be held at Diamond Hall, 435 Diamond Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

O’Brien fell four stories early Sunday at the downtown Grand Rapids entertainment complex, the second fatal fall victim in a month at the B.O.B.

In addition to the event, friends are encouraging donations to the Buster Foundation Pit Bull Rescue in honor of O’Brien’s love of his dog, Diva.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The owners of The B.O.B. issued a statement on Facebook about the most recent death of a man who fell four floors over a stair railing early Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, a witness has also come forward, explaining to FOX 17 what happened during the hours before Kevin O’Brien, 36, 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 pm and joined the group.

The witness said they then traveled to the Grand Woods bar at around midnight where the group continued to drink, including O’Brien.

He goes on to say that between 1:00 am and 1:15 am the bus arrived at The B.O.B. and the group continued drinking.

The witness believes at some point, O’Brien may have separated from the larger portion of the group after running 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 am he fell.

O’Brien was just the latest victim of a fall in that back staircase area.  He’s the third to fall in just four years.

Wednesday new locks were being installed on the doors leading to the staircase and the doors were roped off.

Meanwhile, The Gilmore family, owners of The B.O.B., issued a statement talking about the incidents in which people had fallen.

This is their statement below:

Dear Friends,

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

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