Driving while impaired charges were issued at the scene of a fatal pedestrian crash in Matthews, North Carolina (NC). The at-fault driver was determined to be under the influence of marijuana and was found with an open container of alcohol in her car.
The deadly collision happened near the intersection of McKee Road and St. John Street in the Charlotte suburb. Police responded to reports of the wreck just before 1 am, and investigators determined that the deceased pedestrian had been pushing his bicycle along McKee. He died before he could be transported to a hospital for treatment.
Multiple news reports identified the victim as 22-year-old Richard Angelo and the at-fault driver as 21-year-old Sydney Joan Lindenmuth. In addition to the DWI charges, she has been charged with drug possession.
This fatal pedestrian crash draws renewed attention to the growing problem of drugged driving in North Carolina. Of particular concern is the combined use of alcohol and marijuana, as the controlled substance exacerbates many of the well-recognized problems of drunk driving.
NC Vision Zero, which works to eliminate all traffic deaths, notes on its website that Division of Motor Vehicles report indicating that “in 2014,” according to the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles, “there were 1,342 crashes, 21 fatalities and 752 injuries in North Carolina resulting from drugged driving.” The organization also stresses that marijuana use slows reaction time behind the wheel, decreases coordination needed for steering and braking, takes a driver’s attention off the road, and makes judging time and distance accurately difficult.
As Carolina wrongful death attorneys, my colleagues and I have repeatedly called attention to the dangers of drugged driving. We recently reported on a Columbia University public health study that reveled “50 percent of all teens involved in fatal car crashes were under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or both. There are 4,500 teens killed every year in this country from drunk driving crashes.”
We have also noted that “it is not just illicit drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine, which are behind drugged driving crashes. There is a large problem with prescription drugs,” particularly antidepressants, powerful painkillers known as opioids and antianxiety medications like Valium (diazepam).
The best decision a person can make when picking up a bottle of alcohol or pills, and certainly after using marijuana, is to put down their keys. Making that choice will save lives.