Porter family files wrongful death suit against Steinheimer, bars

Hannah Porter and Abby Liefer

The mother of a young Red Bud woman who died in a head-on crash south of Hecker has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Crystal Steinheimer and three Evansville taverns who are alleged to have served alcohol to her the night of the crash.

Dawn Porter, mother of the late Hannah Porter, filed the 12-count lawsuit in St. Clair County on Aug. 20. In addition to Steinheimer, the other defendants are Michael J’s Saloon, Just Sue’s and Water Street Bar& Grill. Porter seeks a judgment in excess of $75,000 on each count.

The attorney representing Porter, Samantha Unsell of the Keefe & Keefe law firm in Belleville, said the lawsuit was filed in St. Clair County because one of the taverns’ ownership companies, KBB Growth LLC, has its primary office in Belleville.

Steinheimer was charged in Monroe County with aggravated DUI and reckless homicide in the Jan. 10 deaths of Hannah Porter and Abby Liefer of Red Bud.

Steinheimer’s public defender is Arlie Traughber. Her trial is now scheduled to start between Nov. 14 and Nov.  30, barring any continuances.

Steinheimer, 20, has been in custody at the Monroe County Jail in Waterloo since mid-July, when her bond was raised after she was arrested in Red Bud for driving on a suspended license.

The Jan. 10 crash occurred south of Hecker on Route 159. Steinheimer’s northbound 2008 Chevrolet Aveo crossed the center line shortly after 10:30 p.m., police said, colliding with a southbound 2007 Chevy Cobalt driven by Liefer, 19.

Liefer and Porter, a passenger in her car, died from injuries sustained in the crash. A third occupant of Liefer’s car, Grace Richards, suffered relatively minor injuries. All four women involved are from the Red Bud area.

Steinheimer was airlifted to a St. Louis hospital for treatment of serious injuries sustained in the crash.

An Illinois State Police trooper testified during a preliminary hearing that tests taken at Saint Louis University Hospital when Steinheimer arrived indicated a blood alcohol level of .179 — more than twice the legal limit of .08.

Affirmative Insurance Company on March 10 filed paperwork in Monroe County seeking declaratory judgment from the court that it “has no duty or obligation to defend or indemnify” Steinheimer for any damages claimed as a result of the crash.

The insurance company said Steinheimer did have a policy issued through her family on a 1998 Chevrolet Blazer, but the Chevy Aveo she was driving the night of the crash had not been added to this policy.

Steinheimer hadn’t notified Affirmative Insurance of the newly acquired car within 30 days of purchase, as is required, the filing states.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email