Harner makes first court appearance in reckless homicide case - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Harner makes first court appearance in reckless homicide case

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VIENNA, Ill. -- A former Johnson County sheriff's deputy appears in court for the first time Friday on reckless homicide charges.

Prosecutors believe Cyle Harner, the son of former sheriff Charles Harner, drove drunk and at a high rate of speed before a deadly crash in March.

The other survivor in that crash, Tyler Inman, has sued Harner and the bar they were drinking at.

Investigators believe Harner crashed his truck into trees off old Route 146 in Vienna on March 22.

Troy Newman died while Harner and Inman suffered severe injuries.

"Tyler is a roofer and he was basically maimed as a result of the collision: multiple broken bones, multiple surgeries," Inman's attorney, R. Courtney Hughes, said. "He'll never be a roofer again."

Hughes filed a lawsuit against Harner, seeking money for medical bills, lost wages and general pain and suffering from the crash.

"For Tyler, because he was so horribly injured, you're talking about an effect on his life that will last, in his case, the rest of his life," Hughes said.

He also filed a lawsuit against the bar, Big Boys Bar and Grill, for over-serving Harner the night of the crash.

"Illinois has what's called a Dram Shop Act. A Dram Shop is, in law, a bar," Hughes said. "So the Dram Shop Act allows an injured party, in this case Tyler Inman, to bring about a lawsuit against the bar for causing the intoxication of Cyle Harner."

The Dram Shop Act is part of Illinois' Liquor Control Act and it aims to hold places that sell liquor accountable for the actions of people who get drunk off that liquor.  

A lawyer for Big Boys Bar and Grill says Inman was complicit, encouraging Harner to drink that night.

Hughes said that wasn't the case, even though the men were all friends.

"Cyle Harner and Tyler Inman and the decedent didn't all go to the bar together to drink together," Hughes said. "That's just not the evidence in this case."

Hughes said the next hearing in the lawsuit will likely be in March.

A judge explained the criminal charges to Harner in court Friday and set the next hearing for that case Feb. 8.

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