State's attorney looking into event where ISU student was burned

2012-10-02T19:22:00Z 2015-03-30T14:00:29Z State's attorney looking into event where ISU student was burnedBy Edith Brady-Lunny | eblunny@pantagraph.com pantagraph.com

BLOOMINGTON — The McLean County state’s attorney’s office is looking into liquor license issues related to a weekend party at a rural Lexington barn where an Illinois State University student was burned in a bonfire accident.

ISU senior Lauren Bucaro of Carol Stream is recovering at a Chicago-area burn unit from injuries she suffered when she fell into a fire Saturday night at Pleasant View Farm south of Lexington. University spokesman Jay Groves said ISU has been told by Bucaro’s family that the injuries are not serious and she could be back at school next week.

The 21-year-old was attending a barn dance hosted by Gamma Phi Beta sorority. Authorities said she had been drinking.

Pablo Eves, with the civil division of the state’s attorney’s office, said his office is researching what licenses University Liquors of Normal obtained as a third-party vendor in charge of alcohol sales at the event attended by 200 students. At issue is whether the business needed a special event license from the county for the party.

University Liquors owner Ricky Rakolia said Tuesday he does not believe he needs the county license.

“You don’t need that one. ISU wants the town license and the state license. That’s it,” said the owner.

McLean County’s liquor control ordinance requires a Class F retailer’s license for special events where alcohol is sold.

ISU requires student organizations to submit a written agreement with several requirements for the vendor, including a state license and a temporary liquor license for the function.

The business also is responsible for checking identifications and designating guests who are at least 21 by wristbands or other means. Students who are intoxicated are not to be served, according to the rules.

The Pleasant View Farm, owned by Sam Payne, is within the county’s jurisdiction. Payne said Monday that his party barn business follows guidelines spelled out by ISU.

“I am 100 percent legal. I absolutely follow all the rules,” said Payne.

Payne said he relies on vendors to comply with liquor ordinances and monitoring of underage drinkers.

“I push the risk away from me,” said the property owner.

The sorority followed ISU rules for registering the event that involves alcohol with the school, said Groves. But Groves said he was “disappointed that the sorority didn’t tell us about the incident right away.”

He said the sorority notified its national representatives, who were slow in getting the information to ISU.

Concerns about the incident at Pleasant View Farm spread to Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington this week.

Members of the Sigma Chi fraternity canceled plans for a November barn dance at the farm, said George Freeman, an adviser for the fraternity’s alumni group.

“They pulled the plug on the event because they said it’s not safe,” Freeman said of a decision students made after a meeting Monday to discuss the issue.

Saturday’s incident also remains under investigation by the McLean County Sheriff’s Department, which responded to the scene with medical personnel, according to Sheriff Mike Emery.

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(12) Comments

  1. Right57
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    Right57 - October 03, 2012 10:44 am
    Well said!
  2. BC
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    BC - October 03, 2012 9:27 am
    How do you make any setting safe from drunks of any age. As Dr. G once said on her TV program, she sees a lot of people (adults) whose last words were "hold my beer and watch this!". Drunks kill themselves and others daily, most are much older than these college students. Booze makes otherwise sensible people stupid and most habitual drinkers have the scars and bruises to prove it.
  3. NormalNews
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    NormalNews - October 03, 2012 9:17 am
    We need to have a serious talk about banning fire!
  4. BC
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    BC - October 03, 2012 8:55 am
    Sad to say but, any situation like this sends someone running to see if there is a buck to be made. Personal responsibility takes second place to the idea of profiting from a lawsuit. I am also catching here the idea that it could be used to settle some sort of a dispute between people in a position of power and someone they would like to "get". It doesn't sound like the injured has entered into the blame game yet, it is outside parties. Yes, we should all take responsibility for our mistakes and carelessness, unfortunately the legal system, and local politics, see something to be gained by accessing blame.
  5. MRK
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    MRK - October 03, 2012 8:28 am
    I have to agree about the comments - you get drunk and do something dumb, be an adult and deal with it. However, in this case the police are simply looking for someone who can "pay for what happened." It's an event that suddenly ended up with a high profile, so they're looking for anything they can find to get some cash from and press charges on any violators - underage drinkers, liquor vendors, anyone and anything that can get them a news story and some money. Without the injury, they could've cared less about upholding the law. It's rather sad.
  6. BC
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    BC - October 03, 2012 8:03 am
    You are saying, if the local VFW rents their hall for a dance and the organizers of that dance serve/sell liquor the hall is responsible? If the man provided the liquor and the bartender yes. If the property owner rented out his space then there is question. I would assume these parties arrange for their own liquor, if not the property owner is a fool. If the property owner is held responsible then this could carry over to all landlords and events location that rent to any type of tenant, including residence rental. Once you rent something you technically own it for that period of time. That makes the person or organization responsible for what happens while he is in control of the property. The girl is 21, legal, she was falling down drunk. The property owner actually has no legal right to intervene while his property is in the hands of the people he sold control to for that given period of time, the tenants are responsible for controlling and policing their guests. Depending on how the terms were laid out this could get interesting. He has liability insurance and that company will bring in lawyers to sort this out to protect their interests.
  7. gabeski
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    gabeski - October 03, 2012 7:52 am
    Most of these comments just make me sick. It seem like the same old thing we always hear, someone gets hurt "It's the landowners fault" or someone elses, this is another case of, if this landowner hadn't allowed the party there they would have had it somewhere else. Everyone start taking responsibility for your own actions and stop blaming someone else, YOU did it, you chose to go to this party, you chose to drink, you chose to be near the fire, no one twisted your arm. You make your own choices in life, so take responsibility for your actions and QUIT trying to blame someone else.
  8. ct
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    ct - October 03, 2012 3:02 am
    You are wrongfully assuming that minors were 'drunk' or served alcohol.
  9. The Unforgiven
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    The Unforgiven - October 03, 2012 2:02 am
    I like how Sigma Chi cancelled their plans b/c it's not safe. Please tell me how to make a farm safe from drunk college students dancing around a fire.
  10. Smartone
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    Smartone - October 02, 2012 11:08 pm
    I'm not sure what Mr. Payne doesn't understand, but all property owner's are and can be held legally responsible for happens on their property. It would be the same thing if underage drinking was known about on a property and an injury or death occurred. The owner would be held financially liable by the eyes of the courts. This might not have been underage drinking, but anyone who gets injured can still sue even if there was some written agreement. Those things are about as useless as the paper they are printed on. As far as the comment from ladybee, I am just wondering why you think the state attorney might be duck hunting. Are you afraid he may find something? Accidents will always happen, but that again is why business and home owners take out liability policies for those just in case times. The big thing, is will the state's attorney find out if there was underage drinking going on at that party. If there was, then it doesn't matter if the person who got hurt was of legal age. The party was still contributing to the deliquence of minors and that is enough for further investigation and possible charges. But I am sure all was in the up and up, right?
  11. Buick01
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    Buick01 - October 02, 2012 9:29 pm
    I hope that Lauren Bucaro fully recovers from her burns. It is an unfortunate for this to happen to anyone, I believe this could have been avoided. There are two reasons why I believe this could have been avoided. The first is alcohol. Even though the attendants were of age alcohol as everyone knows impairs judgement. Secondly, when you throw in people who have never been on farm or seen tractors, farm animals, and open land people tend not to know what to do with themselves. I have seen this happen before when students come down here from the city and suburbs and see farm machinery and other farm equipment. The likewise can be said about people who live in the country and travel to the city the first time. We do not know how to act! As my grandpa has always told me, "Always know your surroundings!"
  12. ladybee
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    ladybee - October 02, 2012 8:01 pm
    Someone needs to get all their ducks in a row because they are duck hunting!
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