Officer: Suspect in DUI fatality case on I-526 drank mimosas, beer at West Ashley bar
Lisa Pistolis shared two pitchers of mimosas and a beer at a West Ashley bar before a crash on Interstate 526 that killed a man and left his friend with internal injuries, a North Charleston police officer testified Tuesday.
After the Jan. 27 wreck, the 24-year-old woman lay in a hospital. Her eyes were red, and she smelled of alcohol, Officer Jonathan Lawrence said.
She acknowledged drinking only one beer that afternoon at Gene’s Haufbrau on Savannah Highway. But she now faces charges of driving under the influence with death and DUI with great bodily injury, which carry up to 40 years in prison.
“Her demeanor was as if I was bothering her,” Lawrence said. “She had no remorse. ... I believe she had no idea how serious this charge is.”
The testimony came during a preliminary hearing in which Magistrate James Gosnell ruled that the case should proceed toward a trial.
Pistolis was not present. She remains jailed in lieu of a $73,374 bail. Her public defender, Alicia Penn, declined to comment.
The Hooters employee and Ladson resident already was awaiting a jury trial in a separate DUI arrest from February 2012. A trial date has not been set, sheriff’s Maj. Jim Brady said.
Pistolis’ arrest drew attention last month when Facebook photos surfaced showing her partying.
Before the fatal wreck, she had been drinking with a friend at Gene’s Haufbrau, the friend later told the police. They shared the mimosas, a mixture of sparkling wine and orange juice.
Then as she drove eastward on I-526, her Ford veered from her lane several times, the police said. A motorist called 911 to report his suspicions that the Ford’s driver was drunk.
While speaking with a dispatcher, the motorist passed the Ford, then watched what happened next in his mirror.
The Ford drifted into the median at Dorchester Road, overcorrected, then struck a Jeep.
Pistolis’ passenger, who has not been identified told the police that she was looking down when she heard Pistolis curse. When the passenger looked up, the Ford was bounding across the road.
When the passenger asked Pistolis what had happened, Pistolis said, “He cut me off,” according to Lawrence’s testimony.
The Jeep rolled three times and its driver, 35-year-old Serjei Cahuantzi of Charleston, was ejected. The bartender at Joe Pasta in downtown Charleston died at the scene.
Cahuantzi’s passenger, 32-year-old Hart Crouch of Charleston, also was hospitalized with serious injuries.
An attorney for Crouch, David Hoyle of Mount Pleasant, said his client and Cahuantzi were friends and former roommates. Crouch spent several days in the hospital.
After Pistolis was examined by doctors, Lawrence handcuffed her. She said little more that evening, the officer recalled, “just that she wanted to go home.”