Probe of Baseball Pitcher's Death Resumes -- 'Wrong' Editors at St. Louis Paper Consulted?

By: The state Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control is renewing its investigation into whether restaurant workers knew Josh Hancock was drunk but continued to serve alcohol to the Cardinals pitcher before his fatal crash.

On May 31, ATC supervisor Peter Lobdell announced there was no evidence that employees at Mike Shannon's Steaks & Seafood knew Hancock was drunk. Since then, investigators have contacted two witnesses not interviewed in the previous investigation -- restaurant patron Vince Winkel and ESPN commentator Dave Campbell, ATC spokeswoman Terri Durdaller said Wednesday.

Winkel, who has told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and local TV stations that he believes Hancock was clearly intoxicated, said he reiterated those comments to ATC investigators when they interviewed him Tuesday. He declined to elaborate.

"My wife and I agreed after talking to them last night that we're just done with the whole thing," Winkel said. "We've been burned and skewered. We just hoped people would learn a lesson from this, and it hasn't worked out that way. It's taken on a life of its own."

Durdaller said investigators plan to meet this week with Campbell, who was reportedly with Hancock at the restaurant bar. Investigators previously had been unable to reach Campbell, ATC officials said.

The 29-year-old Hancock spent 31/2 hours at Shannon's the night of April 28. In the early hours of April 29, he was driving alone when his sport utility vehicle struck the back of a flatbed tow truck that was stopped in a driving lane of Interstate 64 assisting a stalled car. Hancock was killed instantly. No one else was hurt.

Police said the pitcher had nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood, was speeding, was on a cell phone and was not wearing a seat belt.

Lobdell said the state based its initial finding on interviews with two unnamed teammates of Hancock and four Shannon's employees, including Patricia Shannon Van Matre, the daughter of the longtime Cardinals broadcaster who played on three World Series teams in the 1960s.

Winkel had not been interviewed, Lobdell said at his May 31 news conference, because investigators were unable to determine his identity -- only his first name was used in media reports in the days after the wreck.

But a reporter for KMOV-TV said the station had offered to put investigators in contact with Winkel. Though Lobdell said the Post-Dispatch would not disclose Winkel's identity, the newspaper's editors said they had never been contacted by state investigators.

Durdaller said the ATC simply contacted the wrong editors. "Our agents were trying to contact sports editors as opposed to news editors," she said. "The news conference opened the door and we were able to get that information."

Shannon's has declined comment on the investigation.

Hancock's father, Dean Hancock of Tupelo, Miss., filed suit last month against Shannon's, Van Matre, the tow truck company and operator, and the man whose car was stalled on the highway.

The suit claims Shannon's workers continued to serve alcohol to the pitcher long after he was drunk.


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