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Wrongful death suit filed on behalf of Cape widow

By Staff | Sep 23, 2015

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed over a recent, fatal traffic crash at a Cape Coral pool hall.

On Friday, attorney Randall Spivey initiated the civil action on behalf of Elizabeth Gravel, the widow of Ronald P. Gravel, 60, of 736 Coral Drive in Cape Coral. The suit was filed against William Henry Gulliver, 75, of 2230 Palm Ave., St. James City, for the “senseless and tragic crash he caused,” the court records state.

“We’re seeking both compensatory and punitive damages,” Spivey said. “There would be, obviously, the extreme mental anguish to Liz – his surviving wife – caused by his sudden and tragic death.”

Compensation for wage loss, medical expenses and funeral expenses are also sought.

“They’re still in shock, sorrow and disbelief that their father and husband can be tragically ripped away from them by a drunk driver,” he said. “The evidence of Mr. Gulliver’s guilt is overwhelming.”

Gravel sustained life-threatening injuries on July 20 at 4:56 p.m. when Gulliver drove his Ford F-250 through the front windows of Diamond Billiards Sportsbar & Grill, at 1242 S.W. Pine Island Road.

Gravel was trauma-alerted to Lee Memorial Hospital, but he later died.

Two other pool hall patrons were hospitalized with injuries due to the accident.

Tracy Marie Booker, 52, of 1245 N.W. 37th Ave., was taken to Lee Memorial, while Linda L. Girard, 59, also of 1245 N.W. 37th Ave., was taken to Cape Coral Hospital. Both have since been released.

The truck was parked in the parking lot of Diamond Billiards, facing the building. According to officials, Gulliver entered the truck and after several minutes, drove forward at a high rate of speed. The truck drove through the front windows and the interior and struck the main bar area head on.

At the time, Gravel, Booker and Girard were seated at the bar directly in the truck’s path.

Police reported that the truck hit them, with Gravel and Booker trapped between it and the bar.

Gulliver was uninjured but was transported for observation.

According to the police report, hospital staff conducted a blood alcohol test on Gulliver. At the time, Gulliver registered a blood alcohol content of .402 – more than five times the state’s legal limit.

Spivey referred to Gravel as a “loving father and husband.”

“He loved his family, loved his job and loved to help people,” he said.

The family released the following statement on Friday:

“Words cannot even begin to describe the ache we feel every day knowing that Ron was so recklessly taken from us and is not ever coming home. We are still in shock and disbelief that something like this has happened to such an amazing, honorable and loved man. A man who led by example and believed that ‘real billiards players didn’t drink’ and truly lived by that. He was more than just an extraordinary man, he was an inspiration to everyone he met.”

The family voiced a plan to work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other groups:

“Justice must be served and a lesson must be learned by this. Drinking and driving kills people and is 100 percent preventable. We hope that his legacy will not be in vain and we plan to use his story as an example to help others (as he always did) in the hopes of preventing others from this pain and loss.”

On Sept. 11, Gulliver was picked up on a warrant for one count each of DUI manslaughter, DUI with serious bodily injury and battery, and three counts of DUI with damage to persons or property.

He has since been released from the Lee County Jail on $100,000 bond.

Gulliver has an arraignment scheduled in court on Oct. 10.

On Tuesday, a woman who answered his phone declined to comment on the lawsuit or charges.

It was unknown if Gulliver has retained an attorney.

A husband and father, Gravel was the kitchen manager at the pool hall and had been employed for about six years. Diamond Billiards has helped to set up a GoFundMe account for his family.

As of Tuesday, over $18,000 had been donated to “Prayers for Ron Gravel.”

Anyone interested in donating can do so online at: www.gofundme.com/rongravel.