EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 23, 2014

Haverhill bar feels heat after accident

License Commission to question owner

By Shawn Regan

---- — Lawrence Police say Nathan Sanborn Jr. told them he had been drinking at the Hans Garden in downtown Haverhill before he was arrested with a .17 blood alcohol level for allegedly running into a pedestrian with his pickup truck Saturday night.

The accident has left Jose Diaz, 24, of Lawrence fighting for his life in a Boston hospital.

Now, Joseph Edwards, chairman of the Haverhill License Commission, has asked Haverhill police to gather information about the accident and that the owner of Hans Garden, Tony Hans, be summonsed to the commission’s Feb. 20 meeting.

Edwards said the commission will consider disciplinary action against the popular Chinese food restaurant and bar on Washington Street which has a history of alcohol-related problems. In September 2012, the restaurant was cited for over-serving a 26-year-old man who then toppled backward off a second-story deck overlooking the Merrimack River. The commission gave the restaurant probation for six months, but decided not to take more substantive action because the victim declined to talk to the commission or local police.

Also in 2012, the commission reviewed another complaint against Hans Garden for not allowing police officers to immediately enter the premises after they showed a security officer at the front door their law enforcement credentials. At the time, Edwards said the undercover officers were looking for a suspect, but were delayed from entering the establishment by a bouncer who insisted on seeing the officers’ photo identification in addition to their badges.

“People like you and you’re a friendly guy,” Edwards told Tony Hans at a November 2012 meeting. “But you serve too many drinks to too many people.”

Sanborn, 21, of Kensington, N.H. was arraigned Tuesday in Lawrence District Court on charges he struck Diaz with his Ford F-150 pickup while driving drunk.

Officers at the scene said they smelled alcohol and urine on Sanborn, who told police he’d been drinking at Hans Garden prior to the accident, according to court papers. A breath test showed his blood alcohol level was .17, twice the legal limit, police said.

Diaz, who was walking at Haverhill and Warren streets in Lawrence when he was struck by Sanborn’s truck, was thrown 20 feet in the air and launched 100 feet after Sanborn “plowed” into him at 9:23 p.m., according to police and court reports.

Diaz is in “extremely critical condition” at Beth Israel Hospital with head injuries, including brain swelling, prosecutor Lindsay Nasson said at Diaz’ arraignment.

Eliel Diaz said he witnessed his cousin being “hit and launched” Saturday night. He said he immediately rushed to help Jose, who asked him “if he was going to die,” Eliel Diaz said.

Sanborn, of 281 South Road, Kensington, N.H., refused to take field sobriety tests and was placed under arrest for drunken driving, negligent operation and drunken driving resulting in an accident with serious bodily injury. During booking at the Lawrence police station, prosecutors said, Sanborn “made extremely hateful and racist remarks” about Diaz.

When Sanborn was brought into the courtroom Tuesday, Diaz’s family members, including his mother, siblings and cousins, sobbed loudly. Prosecutors asked for bail to be set at $25,000, but when Judge Kevin Gaffney set it at $15,000, Diaz’s family members started yelling as they left the courtroom.

“My brother is fighting for his life,” one man said.”We need justice. He’s dying,” another woman said, as court officers followed the family out of the courtroom. Family members brought to court a photo of Diaz on life support at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.