A day after 19-year-old Morgan McCoy was struck and killed by a pickup truck while walking out of a Maryville, Mo., bar, the owner of the place said he still doesn’t know how it happened.
What he did know, Erik Schreiber, said, was that McCoy’s death Sunday sent ripples not only throughout Maryville but also the wider community of Northwest Missouri State University students and alumni, of which both he and McCoy were a part.
McCoy, a Northwest Missouri State University sophomore from Liberty, was walking out through the front door of The Palms at 422 N. Buchanan St. about 1 a.m. when a GMC pickup truck with an allegedly drunk driver at the wheel plowed through the front of the building, fatally injuring her.
McCoy reportedly had her hand on the door when the truck hit her, said Schreiber, a Northwest Missouri State graduate and former police officer who has owned The Palms since 2014.
“It’s broken my heart,” Schreiber said Monday. “This affects not only that girl and her family, but the whole campus.”
The driver of the truck, Alex A. Catterson, 21, of Maryville, was arrested and has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, which carries a potential prison sentence of three to 10 years.
According to a police report, his blood alcohol level registered .207, which is more than twice the legal limit.
Officers arriving at the scene of the crash found the pickup truck partially inside the building, with McCoy lying injured in front of it.
An employee of The Palms was detaining Catterson in the driver’s seat of the truck. According to a probable cause statement submitted to prosecutors, police questioning Catterson reported that he “smelled strongly of intoxicating beverages, he had vomited, was belching, and slurring his speech slightly.
“He admitted being intoxicated, repeatedly stated he was drunk, and repeatedly asked about the status of the female victim,” the report said.
McCoy died after being taken to a hospital. The university and members of McCoy’s sorority, Sigma Kappa, issued statements mourning her.
Exactly what led up to the truck slamming into the building remains unclear. Maryville police on Monday said an accident report has not yet been completed.
The Palms remained closed Monday, not only because of the physical damage that needs to be repaired but also because of the tragedy, Schreiber said.
Schreiber said he was not at the bar when the wreck occurred. He noted that it was legal for McCoy, at age 19, to be in the bar. A Maryville city ordinance allows patrons aged 19 and 20 to socialize in bars, but not to drink.
The Palms had at one time been a bar and grill, Schreiber said, but he had removed the kitchen. He said his staff strictly enforced drinking-age rules with colored wristbands and X marks drawn on underage patrons’ hands.
Schreiber said he doesn’t think Catterson had been in his bar. He has created a GoFundMe page to help McCoy’s family with funeral costs.
“It’s been a rough time,” he said. “I’ve bent over backwards to make this place safe so people can send their kids here and they come back in one piece.”