Some want to see stronger restrictions on bar crawls after Hecht death

MILWAUKEE — The toxicology results on 28-year-old Thomas Hecht are now complete. They show Hecht had a .22 blood alcohol concentration. No other results are being released at this time.

Hecht went missing March 10 after a bar crawl with friends. He was pulled from the Milwaukee River not far from Water Street in downtown Milwaukee where he was last seen.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office has classified his death as an accidental drowning.

Some city leaders say they want to cut back on the large-scale, widely-promoted bar crawls that take place across the city – specifically those in October, and near St. Patrick’s Day in March.

UW-Milwaukee students drinking Wednesday, April 18th to celebrate the Brewers game say drinking is just part of the college experience. “That’s what people do to have fun around here. We go downtown, and we enjoy and indulge in alcoholic beverages,” UWM student Tommy Sisler said.

Some of the students said they took part in the St. Patrick’s Day themed pub crawl, as did Hecht. Hecht’s death comes a year-and-a-half after a UWM student died after a bar crawl when he fell off a retaining wall.

Milwaukee Alderman Nik Kovac says drinking is part of Milwaukee’s history, but says bars that advertise they’ll be over-serving as part of a bar crawl should reconsider. “There’s a point where a bar crawl becomes more than a bar crawl, and we’ve certainly hit that point with these two bar crawls where people have died directly as a result of the bar crawl. If establishments participate in these bar crawls that lead to death, destructive behavior and nuisance activity, we’re going to take a look at the underlying liquor licenses,” Alderman Kovac said.

Some who live in the area where these bar crawls take place want to go further. “There’s five or six neighborhood associations that would like to see the events terminated and no longer happening in our neighborhood,” Steve Klebar with the Murray Hill Neighborhood Association said.

Relay Sports Bar takes part in bar crawls, and one manager says they know they have to be part of the solution. “I completely agree with putting tighter restrictions on it. I think banning them is a little over the top. It’s as much our responsibility not to over-serve as it is for our patrons to not over-indulge,” Replay Sports Bar manager Rachael Farrell said.

Alderman Kovac says considering participation in bar crawls when issuing liquor licenses isn’t a new policy. It’s something they plan to enforce more strongly.

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