Owners of a bar at Bridger Bowl Ski Area pleaded not guilty Monday to over-serving alcohol to a man who later killed another driver and himself in a head-on collision while driving back to Bozeman.

Donald and Andrea Bockhahn, owners of the Grizzly Ridge Station, are charged with unlawful sale of an alcoholic beverage, a misdemeanor. They appeared in Gallatin County District Court before Judge Rienne McElyea.

Gallatin County prosecutors allege the bar served alcohol to Brett Randal Ferre despite his slurred speech, sloppy check writing and staggering through the bar on that day.

Ferre was driving toward Bozeman on Bridger Canyon Road on Dec. 8, 2018, when his truck left his lane on a curve and hit a truck driven by Deborah Jean Stratford, according to court documents. Ferre and Stratford died at the scene.

Police said in court documents that they found two empty beer cans behind the passenger seat, empty six-pack rings, skis, ski boots and ski poles. A blood sample showed Ferre had a blood-alcohol level of 0.237, nearly three times the legal limit, and marijuana in his system.

The next day, Donald Bockhahn told officers he heard about the incident and asked his employees if they noticed anyone too drunk that night, police said. He speculated that Ferre might have been involved in the crash and recalled serving him one beer or so before he left around 6:15 p.m.

A Montana Highway Patrol trooper later interviewed Bob Petitt, Bridger Bowl general manager, who said multiple people saw Ferre at the bar the day of the wreck.

Police said Petitt later showed the trooper video of Ferre going in and out of the Grizzly Ridge Station. Petitt said the video did not show Ferre being served alcohol at Bridger Bowl, which is separate from the bar.

Witnesses reported seeing Ferre inside the bar and said he was obviously drunk because he could not walk a straight line and his speech was slurred, court documents said. Witnesses said they offered Ferre a ride home because he was drunk.

Police said bartenders who worked the day of the incident didn’t remember seeing Ferre or anyone else too drunk inside the bar. They said Ferre was at the bar often and they had a hard time remembering the specific day.

Donald Bockhahn later provided law enforcement with video from the bar that showed Ferre there from about 2:40 p.m. until about 6 p.m. Police said Ferre drank eight beers and one Jello shot that either he or friends bought during that time.

The Bockhahns are not in custody. A trial will be set at a later date.

Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.

Reporter

Freddy Monares covers politics and county government for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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