Families call Garrett bar fight ‘misunderstanding’

GARRETT, Ind. (WANE) A man nearly lost his life in a bar fight in Garrett, but he lived to tell the story. Chase Geist’s family wasn’t sure if he would make it after suffering from life-threatening injuries as a result of a blow to the head.

Adam J. High has been arrested in connection with that fight. He turned himself in on Sunday, police said. High’s family is now grappling with the reality that he could go to prison for quite some time. However, one thing is clear: that night at the bar has forever changed both of their lives.

Adam J. High

High, 22, faces a single charge of felony Aggravated Battery related to a Sept. 2, 2017, fight outside Martin’s Tavern that left 28-year-old Geist with severe head injuries and in a coma.

“It was like, why did that happen to me?” said Geist. “I didn’t deserve nothing like that.”

He doesn’t remember much that happened that night but he and his family are reminded of that night daily.

“There for a while I had no skull,” he said “I had a little dent.”

“I stayed there [at the hospital,” said Ed Geist, Chase’s father. “Wondering and praying that I don’t lose him.”

Police reviewed surveillance video from Martin’s Tavern and other businesses nearby, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Martin’s Tavern in Garrett

According to court documents, a fight broke out inside the bar at 115 N. Randolph St., in the city’s center Friday night. A group of five people, including Geist and High, left through the back door.

Later, the video shows an altercation behind the bar in an alley near the dumpster. Chase Geist grabbed a woman from behind. A witness said he was trying to keep her from going back inside.

A short time later, Adam High reportedly ran from the front of the bar to the back alley and punched Geist in the head. He fell to the ground and appeared to be unconscious. The surveillance footage showed another man pulling High away from Geist.

“The girl that took me [to the bar] was getting in a fight with another girl,” said Geist. “So I think I came outside to help her stay away from that and he thought I was somebody else and came up from behind me and hit me.”

Bridgett High, Adam’s mother, said her son thought the woman was in trouble.

“A girl screaming ‘help, get him off me,’ and he helps her,” she said. “This is what it comes down to.”

High is locked up at Dekalb County Jail but his mom felt like it was important to tell his side. She said he never meant for it to go this far.

Geist was found badly beaten by first responders. It was clear that he suffered severe head injuries and was unconscious.

High admitted to police that he was involved in the altercation that occurred inside the bar. However, he denied being involved in a fight with Geist.

“Unfortunately the kid was severely hurt, nobody wanted that,” she said. “But Adam thought at the time he was helping his female friend out.”

High said there were several people involved in this and  she believes they all should be held accountable. Instead, she said her son has taken the fall.

Geist was taken to a local hospital and admitted to intensive care, where a metal plate was inserted in his skull and he was placed in a medically induced coma, a family member told NewsChannel 15 previously.

Geist’s father said his son’s condition has improved significantly. Geist underwent several surgeries and rehabilitation. He has since been released from the hospital and is now back to work. The Geist family said they are happy High has been arrested and charged and they believe justice will prevail.

“I’m alright,” said Ed Geist.  “I’m good with that. And the good lord will do it in the end.”

The parents of both men said there is a lesson in all of this.

“If you’re going to be stupid enough to go out and get drunk and hang out at the bar all night,” said High. Know that no matter who you are or what bar your at, eventually there’s going to be a fight whether you’re in it or not.”

“Don’t go to the bars,” said Ed Geist. “Quit drinking. [There’s] sure to be no problem. It’s more fun. I learned that the hard way, years ago.”

For months it was unclear who attacked Geist and why. A waitress at the bar told NewsChannel 15 that just before he was attacked, a group was kicked out of the bar for causing a confrontation. She said there were bouncers at the bar that night, and witnesses outside at the time who were cooperating with police. There are also surveillance cameras that may have captured what happened.

In December, police turned over details of their investigation to the DeKalb County Prosecutor’s Office. High was charged Dec. 19.