After 17 shots, man ‘didn’t seem drunk,’ waitress said. Hours later he was dead.

After 17 shots, man ‘didn’t seem drunk,’ waitress said. Hours later he was dead.
Kristen Hampton | WBTV
Kristen Hampton | WBTV
Kristen Hampton | WBTV
Kristen Hampton | WBTV

CHARLOTTE, NC (Jane Wester/Charlotte Observer) - A bar allegedly served a man at least 17 shots in four hours in September, shortly before he died in a car crash, according to the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

That's not the way the southwest Charlotte bar remembers it.

Officials from Wild Wing Cafe say the 17 shots were on one bill, but that doesn't mean 48-year-old Robert Kite consumed all of them.

"On Sept. 18, Mr. Kite was with a group of several people at our restaurant for multiple hours," the restaurant said in a statement. "The alleged violation from the ABC Commission suggests that one person received 17 shots. This is inaccurate as the drinks were consumed by the group and were simply on one bill."

But an Alcohol Law Enforcement report submitted to the ABC Commission and obtained by the Observer on Thursday contradicts that account.

Kite did drink at Wild Wing with several other people, the report states, and a tab for the group showed 17 shots of Maker's Mark bourbon, among other drinks.

The ALE officer asked two employees – a bartender and a waitress who served Kite that night – if he drank all the Maker's Mark.

"(The bartender) believed he did because he was the only person drinking Maker's Mark during the evening," according to the report. The waitress agreed that Kite ordered only Maker's Mark and said she wasn't aware of anyone else in his group drinking it.

Kite ordered drinks from the bar and from the waitress during the evening, the report said, which made it harder for the bartender and the waitress to keep track of how much he was drinking.

The bartender also said Kite ordered two double shots of Maker's Mark at the beginning of the night and paid cash, so those weren't included in the 17 shots on the tab.

In a letter included with the report, the bartender wrote that Kite and several friends started drinking shortly after 8 p.m. and stayed for the Monday Night Football game. Kite's boss paid the group's bill, which totaled several hundred dollars, the report states.

Kite and his friends were regulars, the bartender wrote, and she hugged them as they left. She asked how they were getting home, and they all said they weren't driving, she wrote.

"All members of the group, including Mr. Kite, were seemingly coherent and could stand up, hold a thorough and clear conversation with me, and ultimately left the establishment at about 11:30 p.m. as a group," she wrote.

The waitress had a similar account and said she didn't remember the men slurring their words or stumbling, the report said.

"(She) said they had been drinking a lot and she didn't believe they should be driving but they didn't seem drunk," the report said.

At about 12:50 a.m. on Sept. 19, Kite's Chevy vaulted off an elevated Interstate 485 exit ramp onto the highway's outer loop below.

The car rolled twice more, fell off another bridge and ended up on Interstate 77, more than 300 feet from the beginning of the crash.

His body was found on the side of I-485, N.C. State Highway Patrol records said. He was a father of six, according to local news reports.

Kite's toxicology report said his blood-alcohol content was .24, three times the legal limit.

The state ABC Commission rejected a proposed settlement with the Wild Wing Cafe Wednesday, ABC Commission Deputy Director Agnes Stevens said.

The settlement would have required Wild Wing Cafe, a chain with an Ayrsley location, to pay a $1,000 fine by March 9 or serve a 10-day suspension of its liquor licenses, starting March 16.

Stevens said the commissioners looked at the case and decided the penalty should be higher.

Now the ABC Commission and Wild Wing will try to renegotiate and create a new settlement, Stevens said. If that's not possible, the issue will move to the Office of Administrative Hearings.