Friends remember Surf City man killed in accident during winter storm

SURF CITY, NC (WECT) - Friends and co-workers at Gallagher's Bar and Grill shared stories and memories of Dax Baker Thursday, one week after the 20-year-old died in an accident in Surf City.

"His smile would light up the whole place. Everyone knew him," Cassidy Hipkiss said.

Customers have been stopping by the restaurant offering their condolences and support to staff at Gallagher's. General Manager Peter Sloan said the place was closed the day he heard about the accident, to give staff time to grieve.

"(He was the) first person you see when you come in the door, and the last person you would see because he loved opening the door for guests and saying 'Thank you very much. Thanks for coming in,'" Sloan said.

According to Surf City Police Chief Ron Shanahan, officers responded to a call about a submerged vehicle in a canal at the end of Broadway Street around 1:45 a.m. last Thursday. Rescuers were able to pull the vehicle from the canal and found Baker's body inside.

Assistant Manager Amanda Ford said the restaurant is too quiet without Baker, and that it's too hard for some employees to talk about him.

"It just feels empty," she said. "Seeing his name on the schedule and knowing he was supposed to be here 20 minutes ago."

Sloan said that the Gallagher's team is offering support to Baker's family, and wants them to know they'll do whatever they can to help in such a difficult time.

"It's very simple: We're here for you. Our entire team is. We also lost a family member and it's not easy for anyone," Sloan said.

Detectives said they believe the inclement weather caused the crash. In a call to 911, Baker's mother said she believed her son may have been under the influence at the time of the accident.

The accident is under investigation.

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