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Amherstburg Festival Hit With Big Fine After Worker’s Death

A Windsor judge has fined the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival over $52,000 in the death of a volunteer who drank at the event and later died in a crash.

The festival was also charged a 30% victim surcharge, bringing the total the corporation will have to pay to $65,625. It has six months to pay the fine.

Emily Bernauer was just days shy of her 19th birthday when her car left Concession Rd. N in Amherstburg and struck a mailbox. Earlier that day, she had worked at the Sobey’s both at the festival. The trial heard that Bernauer got wine from a cooler at the booth, and was able to buy drink tickets.

Justice Mike Hurst, calling his decision one of the toughest of his career, found the corporation guilty of two counts under the Liquor Licensing Act. In his ruling, he said the festival might have taken reasonable steps to prevent underage drinking, but failed to provide food vendors written rules about alcohol.

The court also heard Bernauer had THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in her system at the time of the crash.

The festival has been defunct since 2014, but Defence Lawyer, Patrick Ducharme told the corporation still has some assets. He says it will sell those to cover the cost of the fines.

The festival’s board decided a few months ago the event is permanently cancelled.