NEW: Wellington to address DUI, underage drinking with bar owners

Dec 20, 2017
(Palm Beach Post staff file photo)

A tragic incident has spurred a community discussion on drunk driving and underage drinking in Wellington.

A roundtable slated for Thursday afternoon at Wellington’s Village Hall will address the issues in the wake of the late-November crashed that killed two young equestrians, 19-year-old Dana McWilliams of Connecticut and 21-year-old Christian Kennedy of Iowa, and critically injured another, 24-year-old Elaine O’Halloran, originally of Ireland.

RELATED: Operation Wild Stallion targets DUIs, underage drinking in Wellington

While the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office report did not mention alcohol as a factor in the crash, Wellington officials and the equestrian community have been quick to call for change, citing past instances where fatal crashes in the village that have involved alcohol.

As PBSO launched its Operation Wild Stallion at the beginning of December to crack down on DUI and underage drinking in Wellington, Vice Mayor John McGovern called for the roundtable to bring together the key players who could influence a shift in culture throughout the village.

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“I think that it is important that there be a discussion directly in person with the people who have the greatest opportunity to ensure that the recent tragic loss of life doesn’t happen again, and that is our owners of businesses that serve alcohol,” McGovern said.

McGovern said he expects village staff and officials, law enforcement, business owners and members of the equestrian community will attend.

RELATED: Young equestrians killed in Wellington crash: ‘It’s a sad way to start’ the season

“I don’t know that this is a problem that can be solved by any one group singularly,” he said. “A bar owner can do everything right and there can still be underage drinking that happens at a home or a barn — which is then followed by driving in a car, and some tragedy ensues.”

McGovern acknowledged that while there is no “fail-safe” to the double issues of DUI and underage drinking, he does believe “we should be doing all we can.” He also said this could be the first of several discussions on this issue.

The discussion is open to the public and begins at 4 p.m. Thursday in rooms 1E and 1F at Village Hall, 12300 Forest Hill Blvd., Wellington. For more information, call Village Manager Paul Schofield’s office at 561-791-4000.

RELATED: Will fatal crash spur changes in Wellington’s equestrian community?