Carson Briere, the son of current NHL executive and former player Danny Briere, has been charged with two misdemeanors and a summary offense for pushing an unoccupied wheelchair down a flight of stairs. Surveillance footage at Sullivan’s Pub and Eatery in Erie, Pennsylvania captured the incident, which initially showed Briere chatting with another man at the top of the stairs next to the empty wheelchair. Briere then briefly sat in the wheelchair before standing up, pushing it down the stairs, and proceeding toward the bar in an adjacent room.
Erie police filed charges of criminal mischief, criminal conspiracy to commit mischief, and disorderly conduct against Briere, who had recently completed his third season playing hockey for Mercyhurst University. According to District Judge Sue Mack, Patrick Carrozzi, a senior on the school’s lacrosse team and a native of Victor, NY, also faces the same three charges. In the video, Carrozzi can be seen moving the wheelchair toward the edge of the stairs as Briere turns around and gives it the final push. Convictions for a second-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania carry a potential prison sentence of up to two years and a fine of up to $5,000. A summary offense is typically punishable by a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. Both misdemeanor and summary offenses can also lead to the possibility of probation. The two men are scheduled to be arraigned at a preliminary hearing on May 22.
Briere’s and Carrozzi’s actions posed a potential danger to anyone coming upstairs, created a hazardous condition by blocking the staircase, and disrespected the possessions of someone with a disability. The wheelchair’s owner, Sydney Benes, filed a criminal complaint that reported extensive damage to her property. The fall damaged the wheelchair’s left brake handle, broke the right armrest’s plastic molding, bent a rear handle, and caused the wheels to drag when moving forward. Benes purchased the wheelchair for $2,000 about a year ago.
Sydney Benes, who is also a student at Mercyhurst, lost her legs in August of 2021 after a tragic car accident. She was trapped in her flaming car while waiting for rescue crews and suffered third and fourth-degree burns. A bad infection resulted in the amputation of both of her legs. Benes spent three months in the hospital recovering from the crash. Before her injury, Benes played soccer for Mercyhurst Preparatory School in Erie.
Benes had hoped that the incident at Sullivan’s on March 11 was an accident. She was heartbroken and disappointed to find out that it wasn’t. Sydney is described as a “regular patron” at Sullivan’s. However, the late 19th-century building isn’t exactly wheelchair accessible. It was built almost 100 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect and the only bathroom is located down the stairs in the basement. One of the bar’s co-owners claims he is working to make the bar more accessible for people with disabilities. Although some historic buildings qualify as exempt from the ADA, it is reasonable to question whether this establishment is compliant. Federal law allows fines of up to $75,000 for the first ADA violation and $150,000 for additional infractions. Furthermore, state and local governments may allow for extra fines. It is still unclear whether ADA accessibility will factor into this case.
Since her accident, the bar staff had kindly carried Benes downstairs whenever she needed to use the restroom. On that particular night, Nate Sanders, the pub’s security manager, placed Benes’s wheelchair at the top of the steps and brought her to the ground floor so that she could use the restroom. As Sanders prepared to carry Benes back up the stairway, they found her chair noticeably damaged from an apparent fall.
Sanders consulted the security camera footage and was quickly able to identify Briere and Carrozzi. Both men were forced to apologize to Benes before they were escorted out of the bar and permanently banned from coming back. Benes described the apology as “quite insincere.”
When Mercyhurst heard about what transpired on March 11, the school immediately suspended Briere from the hockey team and Carrozzi from the lacrosse team. An investigation is now underway. The university also released a statement declaring that Briere’s and Carrozzi’s conduct fell short of the school’s “belief in the inherent dignity of each person.” Soon after, Carson Briere issued an apology through the Philadelphia Flyers saying that he was “deeply sorry for [his] behavior,” and would “do whatever [he] can to make up for this serious lack of judgment.”
The staff of Sullivan’s Pub created a GoFundMe page to help Benes repair her damaged wheelchair. Nearly $9,000 has been raised thus far. Benes announced that she will use some of the funds to fix her chair but will donate the rest to organizations such as the Erie Fire Department, which saved her life in 2021.
Philadelphia Flyers Interim General Manager Danny Briere – Image from ABC
After the Philadelphia Flyers fired Chuck Fletcher on March 10, Danny Briere was named Interim General Manager. His appointment occurred just one day before the incident involving his son. Briere played in the NHL for 17 seasons, spending six years with the Flyers and just over three years with the Buffalo Sabres. He had served as Special Assistant to the General Manager for the Flyers since February of 2022.
In a personal statement, Danny Briere expressed that he was “shocked” to see the video of his son. He described Carson’s actions as “inexcusable,” explained that his conduct ran “completely counter to [their] family’s values,” and stated that his son “accepts full responsibility for his behavior.”
Carson Briere has appeared in 82 games during his college career. He was the Mercyhurst Freshman of the Year for the 2020-21 season. Briere was previously dismissed from Arizona State’s hockey team as a redshirt freshman in 2019 for violating team rules. Carson said that he “wasn’t taking hockey seriously” and acknowledged that partying affected his commitment to the sport. According to College Hockey News, Briere entered Arizona State with high expectations after a dominant season for the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL. After his dismissal from ASU, he landed with the Trail Smoke Eaters of the BCHL before receiving a second chance from Mercyhurst to play at the collegiate level. Until about two weeks ago, Mercyhurst seemed to be the perfect fit for Briere. He had performed exceptionally well. However, his recent behavior may have squandered yet another opportunity to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Carson Briere – https://hurstathletics.com/sports/mens-ice-hockey/roster/carson-briere/13363
Danny Briere – https://6abc.com/sports/interim-gm-daniel-briere-says-flyers-wont-be-a-quick-fix/12945478/
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