A young couple who lost their unborn son after they were hit by a drunk driver were awarded a $1.7 million settlement on Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina by the restaurant that served the inebriated customer excessive amounts of alcohol before he got behind the wheel.
The victims, Matt and Meredith Eastridge, hope this legal victory will prevent future tragedies but said that no amount of money could ever make up for their loss.
The Eastridges say that fateful day, October 29, 2010, changed their lives forever and as they grieve for the son they never knew - they have a new found joy with the arrival of a baby girl this year.
Meredith Eastridge was six months pregnant when she and her husband drove to pick up their other vehicle, that had been towed, from an impound lot around 12:30am on a Thursday in October 2010.
The pair saw a speeding Volvo coming towards them and in a flash, everything in their life would change.
The driver, David Canter Huffman, was going 100 mph when he crossed the center line and hit the Eastridges head-on in their Toyota RAV4.
The impact flipped their SUV and it was knocked back 25 feet.
Huffman had a blood-alcohol content of nearly three times the legal limit at the time of the collision.
The 25-year-old driver died in the crash. Both Matt and Meredith were severely injured and they lost their son.
The couple, who married in April 2009, were hospitalized for several months. They underwent several surgeries and had to relearn how to complete basic tasks.
'10/28/10 changed my life forever, life is simply too short to never really live,' Matt Eastridge, who runs an online marketing company in Charlotte, wrote on his Facebook profile.
'Carpe Diem my friends, for tomorrow is far short of a guarantee,' he added.
But in the aftermath of the tragedy, details emerged about Huffman's movements before he landed behind the wheel of his car and the couple brought a case against the bar where he had been before he went out on the road.
Before the crash, Huffman had stopped by Eddie’s Place Restaurant and Bar, in south Charlotte, to unwind at the end of the day and surveillance video shows the man downing shots with the bar's owner, according to The Charlotte Observer.
He had been served at least eight drinks, according to the restaurant, but an attorney for the Eastridges estimate it was closer to 15 drinks.
Huffman was clearly drunk and even walked into a chair as he tried to move about, footage showed.
An attorney for the restaurant, Rick Pinto, said the restaurant's employees had arranged for Huffman to catch a ride with someone but in his altered mental state, he went to his own car instead.
A jury awarded the couple a $1.7 million settlement, which Matt Eastridge said he hopes will deter restaurants and bars from serving customers too much alcohol.
North Carolina has legislation, dubbed a 'dram shop' law, that allows victims to sue establishments that provide alcohol to someone who is noticeably intoxicated.
Meanwhile the Eastridges are still remembering their unborn child, they named Elijah Dean.
They have set up a fundraising page for supporters. Proceeds will go to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in addition to helping fund a mission trip for Matt to take in memory of Elijah.
They also became parents this April, welcoming a baby girl they have named Sloane Isabella.
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