Rock Hill restaurant manager dies in Charlotte crash

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comNovember 4, 2013 

— The manager of a Rock Hill restaurant died Friday in a Charlotte car crash that killed three other people after the car went airborne and hit a utility pole, according to police.

Robert Clark Jowett, 57, who managed the Fatz Cafe on Herlong Avenue in Rock Hill, died of blunt force trauma suffered in the accident, an investigator with the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office said on Monday. Three other men died in the 12:40 a.m. crash on South Tryon Street. They were identified as Arthur Tyrale Coleman, 32, the driver; and passengers Gabrial Sullivan, 32; and Juan Valentino Simmons, 50.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police say the victims were in a 1995 Lexus SC300 that apparently was speeding a short distance north of Steele Creek Road. Police say the driver of the car apparently lost control of the vehicle, and it hit the curb near Rivergate Parkway, in front of the Steele Creek Crossing Shopping Center.

Police Sgt. David Sloan said the car went up a small embankment, hit a utility pole, and went airborne. The Lexus slammed into a streetlight and hit a brick sign at the shopping center entrance, before flipping. The car landed on its roof.

Capt. Rob Brisley of the Charlotte Fire Department said firefighters from Station 37, a short distance south of the scene, arrived within minutes of the crash. They found the car overturned.

“Firefighters were able to reach two victims trapped in the car, but they did not survive,” Brisley said.

Other rescue crews discovered minutes later that two other men were lying nearby. One of those men was dead, and the other victim died a short time later, authorities say. Those men apparently were thrown from the vehicle.

The speed limit in that area is 45 mph.

Jowett managed Fatz for five years as an operating partner, said Steve Corson, vice president of human resources for Cafe Enterprises.

“He was a great friend and a great leader for us,” Corson said. Friday, he said, “was a difficult day for us.”

Employees “are doing extremely well ... all of them were close to Bob. They are doing what they thought Bob would have expected them to do – keep on keeping on, taking care of guests and running the business.”

Corporate officials have not decided who will manage the restaurant.

“We bring support in from other locations and people volunteer to help,” Corson said. “That's just the way we are as a company. Folks tend to help out when they’re needed.”

Steve Lyttle of the Charlotte Observer contributed

Jonathan McFadden •  803-329-4082

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