Underage Drinking : Bar Implicated in Fatal Crash Is Investigated

Times Staff Writer

The Ramada Inn in Agoura Hills served a margarita to a teen-age girl just a week after allegedly serving alcohol to two minors who were later killed in a car crash, an investigator for the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said Thursday.

The department will levy a fine of up to $1,500 for serving the teen-ager last Friday, said Lonnie Corley, an ABC supervising special investigator.

The ABC began investigating the Menagerie bar at the Ramada Inn in the 30100 block of West Agoura Road last week after receiving reports that the youths involved in the March 18 car crash had been drinking at the bar shortly before the accident, Corley said.

Michelle Sinclair, 18, of Thousand Oaks and Michael Holcomb, 20, of Moorpark were killed when their car smashed into a utility pole, said Sgt. Kevin Mauch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Matthew Tupin, 20, of Westlake Village survived, Mauch said.


Bought Alcohol at Bar

Tupin told police that he purchased alcohol at the Ramada Inn bar, Mauch said. State law prohibits bars serving drinks to anyone under 21. Tupin would not tell police about his friends’ actions, Mauch said. Tupin, who authorities said was recuperating at his parents’ home, could not be reached for comment.

On Friday, an ABC investigator observed a young woman buying a margarita at the hotel’s bar without being asked for identification, Corley said. When approached by an ABC investigator, the girl produced identification showing that she was under 21.

The hotel has the right to appeal the fine by asking for a hearing before a state administrative law judge, Corley said. Hotel officials did not return phone calls from The Times on Thursday.


Investigators will ask the Agoura Hills city attorney to file misdemeanor charges against the bartender, Corley said. However, he noted, patrons were being asked for proof of age at the entrance of the bar. The girl may have sneaked into the bar, Corley said.