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Grieving groom sues alleged DUI driver and local bars over ‘unbelievably devastating’ death of bride killed while leaving wedding reception

Jamie Komoroski

Jamie Komoroski (Charleston County Sheriff’s Office), Aric Hutchinson and Samantha Miller pictured leaving their wedding reception (via court documents)

A grieving groom who was seriously injured in a crash that killed his new bride just moments after the newlyweds left their wedding reception in a golf cart has filed a lawsuit, both against the alleged drunk driver who crashed into them and the local bars accused of serving her “excessive” alcohol.

Aric Hutchinson, 36, filed the wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday in the County of Charleston, South Carolina, in the Ninth Judicial Circuit, alleging that 25-year-old Jamie Komoroski was grossly negligent and reckless on April 28, the day 34-year-old Samantha Miller and her new husband thought would be the happiest day of their lives. Instead, it was their last day together, and authorities say that is because Komoroski got behind the wheel in Folly Beach with a .261 BAC — more than triple the legal limit — and sped up before hitting the golf cart in a “drunken haze.”

“The day was perfect, and the wedding went off better than either of them could have imagined,” the lawsuit began, sharing a photo of the “madly in love” newlyweds leaving their wedding reception, not knowing the horror that awaited them.

But “[w]hat began, and should have remained, the happiest day of Sam and Aric’s lives ended in a horrifying and unbelievably devastating, yet altogether preventable, tragedy,” the filing said.

Joining the lawsuit as plaintiffs are Hutchinson’s Utah-based brother-in-law Benjamin Garrett, his wife Alexis Garrett, and the couple’s 17-year-old son Brogan. Benjamin Garrett was driving the golf cart and his son was next to him, the lawsuit said.

“Despite living on James Island, Jamie Komoroski, in the stupor of a drunken haze, mistakenly drove east on East Ashley Avenue in the opposite of direction of her home. As she headed east on East Ashely Avenue, Jamie Komoroski accelerate rapidly,” the lawsuit said. “Even as she blew through the 25-mph speed limit, Jamie Komoroski continued to accelerate. Reaching speeds of approximately 65-mph, Jamie Komoroski hurtled down Ashely Avenue and slammed into the back of the golf cart in which the plaintiffs were riding.”

“As a result of the violent and catastrophic collision,” the lawsuit said, “each of the Plaintiffs suffered terrible and permanent injures and Aric’s new bride, Samantha Miller, lost her life.”

The various bars that served the “noticeably and visibly intoxicated” Komoroski are also liable for negligence and wrongful death, plaintiffs asserted.

While the “bar hopping” Jamie Komoroski is sued individually for gross negligence and recklessness, all defendants — including The Crab Shack, Taco Boy, The Drop In, Snapper Jacks, El Gallo, and 1 – 20 John or Jane Does — are accused of wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiffs also raise claims of negligent, grossly negligent, and/or reckless hiring, supervision, training and retention against the bars. The lawsuit revealed that Komoroski worked at Taco Boy, one of bars named in the lawsuit.

The suit, at one point, accused Komoroski’s supervisor of “organizing, arranging, and supervising an employee function knowing that excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages would be purchased for, served to, and consumed by the employees attending the function.”

The multi-count suit was brought by Charleston lawyers Daniel Dalton and Brian Mickelsen.

“There are still many details we don’t know about the sequence of events leading up to the tragic crash, but by filing a lawsuit, we can begin the legal discovery process that allows us to get the answers that Samantha’s family deserves,” Dalton said in a statement.

The lawsuit came just days after Hutchinson spoke out for the first time about the unimaginable loss of the love of his life.

“She would’ve loved it,” Aric Hutchinson said of the memorial service. “This is Sam. I mean, she’s a beach girl, through and through. We do walk here almost every morning, and this is her send-off for sure. She’s up there smiling for sure.”

Promising that “all facts” would come to light, Komoroski’s lawyers previously urged the public not to rush to judgment.

Taco Boy has since released a lengthy statement saying that the recently hired Komoroski was fired. The restaurant denied that Komoroski ever entered the restaurant on the day of the fatal crash and asserted that claims of an “officially organized” restaurant employee drinking “function” were false:

In light of today’s announcement regarding the lawsuit involving the tragic death of Samantha Miller, we feel compelled to respond to the publicity and allegations by sharing our official statement. We will, of course, be cooperating in the investigation, as we wish to help bring closure to the family during this difficult time.

On the day of the accident, Friday, April 28, 2023, we can confirm with absolute certainty that Jamie Komoroski did not set foot in Taco Boy, nor did anyone on our team serve her alcohol at the restaurant. We have confirmed this by watching 16 hours of video footage from multiple cameras, staff interviews with everyone working that day, and by reviewing all sales receipts.

Miss Komoroski had been recently hired at Taco Boy and had trained for only two days prior to the accident. She passed her background check and there were no red flags that would indicate ineligibility for employment. She has since been terminated.

The lawsuit alleges an officially organized employee function around drinking, which we can assure there was no such thing.

We are committed to serving alcohol responsibly and take it very seriously for the safety of our staff and guests. We require that our employees ID everyone and our staff are all ServeSafe /TIPS alcohol training certified before they are allowed to serve guests. We take great care not to overserve anyone.

Our hearts are with the family and friends impacted by this tragedy. Beyond the many visitors we receive, Folly Beach is a close-knit community of locals and businesses, and we share in the heartbreak of this senseless loss.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.