Semitruck driver who collided with car suspected to have been under the influence of drugs

Semitruck driver who collided with car in Moab suspected to have been under the influence of drugs
Photo courtesy of the Moab City Police Department Donald Ray Vaughn Jr.

A semitruck driver was suspected to be under the influence of drugs, police say, after the vehicle he was driving exited its lane on Moab’s Main Street and hit a car in a left turn lane on Saturday.

A police officer searched Donald Ray Vaughn Jr.’s vehicle and found plastic bags containing methamphetamine, heroin, suspected MDMA and several syringes, according to Moab Police Chief Jim Winder. Vaughn was arrested and taken to the Grand County Sheriff’s office jail facility.

Vaughn was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance, DUI, use or possession of drug paraphernalia, and being under the influence of drugs while on duty in a commercial vehicle.

Opioid epidemic spilling over onto roads, study says


Patients who are prescribed opioids and the clinicians who prescribe them have more to be concerned about than steadily rising rates of opioid overdoses, according to a new study.

The research, published in February in the journal JAMA Network Open, shows that drivers who are on prescribed opioids are twice as likely to be in deadly two-vehicle accidents than those not using the drugs. As the United States struggles with an opioid epidemic , these findings could affect health care providers’ decision-making processes, the authors say.

Statistics from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that although the rate of opioids prescribed per 100 people decreased from 72.4% to 66.5% from 2006 to 2016, 214 million opioid prescriptions are written each year.

Study author Dr. Guohua Li, a professor of epidemiology and anesthesiology and the founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University, said he and co-author Stanford Chihuri, a staff associate in Columbia’s Department of Anesthesiology, were motivated to take on this research because “the ongoing opioid epidemic has spilled over to the nation’s roadways, with deadly consequences.”

For the study, the researchers used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System , which contains records from throughout the United States on motor vehicle crashes with at least one death within 30 days of the accident. This data is based on “driver-related factors,” the unsafe actions of drivers that lead to crashes. A driver with at least one driving error resulting in that fatal crash becomes known as the crash initiator.

The researchers used these driving errors to measure which drivers were at fault for crashes and used toxicology results to look for the presence of opioids.

After looking at 18,321 driver pairs who died in two-vehicle accidents between 1993 and 2016, Li and Chihuri found that 54.7% of deceased drivers who tested positive for prescribed opioids crashed because they were unable to stay in their lane. Additionally, more crash initiators overall tested positive for prescribed opioids, alcohol or both than those who were not initiators.

Previous research has shown that opioids can impair drivers by causing them to be dizzy, drowsy or even sedated. By decreasing alertness and increasing reaction time, opioids cause patients to be at increased risk of crashing while driving. The medications often carry warnings against driving, operating heavy machinery or participating in other potentially dangerous activities while taking them.

The authors acknowledge limitations to the study. Drivers who tested positive for an opioid were not necessarily impaired. Also, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System does not record the dosage of opioids or alcohol. And although driving errors were standardized to understand who was faulted for the accident, this may not be enough information and varies from state to state.

Li and Chihuri conducted a previous study that showed that, before the onset of the opioid epidemic in the 1990s, opioid use was responsible for only about 1% of driver deaths in the United States. As both illicit and prescription opioid use has increased, the number of motor vehicle deaths from opioid use has increased to at least 7%the study says.

To reverse this trend and ensure that patients do not fall victim to driving under the influence, education and collaboration between patients and clinicians is necessary, the researchers say.

Man killed his wife and two friends at her birthday party when they refused to let him drive drunk

A Mississippi man killed his wife and two friends at her birthday party when they refused to let him drive drunk
Michael Barnhill was arrested last week after killing three people who stopped him from driving drunk. One of the victims was the man’s wife, Marlee, who was celebrating her birthday with Barnhill and friends when the murders occurred. (Handout)

They were trying to look out for him, and he responded by killing them.

A Mississippi man was arrested last week after shooting three people who stopped him from driving drunk last week, according to a local CBS affiliate.

Marlee Barnhill was shot dead by her husband.
Marlee Barnhill was shot dead by her husband. (Carroll County Sheriff’s Office)

One of 30-year-old Michael Barnhill’s victims was his wife Marlee, who was celebrating her birthday with Barnhill and friends. She would have turned 27 the next day.

“These were all good friends having a nice time together,” Carroll County Sheriff Clint Walker said after the shootings. “Michael Barnhill, however, became drunk and belligerent during the course of the evening. The others discouraged his drunkenness, and he became angry and combative.”

According to the sheriff’s report, when Marlee refused to give her husband the keys to his truck, he went to the vehicle to retrieve a handgun.

Barnhill reportedly returned with the firearm, slapped a cigarette out of his wife’s hand and put a bullet in her chest. He then shot the party’s hosts, Jim and Brooks Harrell; neither of whom made it to the hospital alive.

“Marlee was trying to do the right thing to protect his life and the lives of other drivers,” Walker said.

Marlee had posted video on Facebook before the event where she shared beauty tips and spoke excitedly about seeing all of her friends at the big party.

“Happy March 1!!!! New month, New Goals, and my BIRTHDAY MONTH!” she excitedly posted while preparing for her big night.

Barnhill was arrested after a brief struggle with officers. He is charged with the three killings as well as two counts of attempted murder against a pair of party-goers who went into another room to protect the Harrells’ sleeping 10-year-old son.

Maine man argues he shouldn’t be convicted of drunk driving because his gut brews its own alcohol

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday denied the appeal of a Maine man who argued he shouldn’t have been convicted of drunk driving, because the lower court didn’t allow him to bring witnesses supporting his argument that his gut brews its own alcohol.

But instead of providing a clear precedent, one of the court’s justices raised concerns the wording of the court’s decision could inadvertently create a loophole allowing for an ignorance defense in future drunk driving cases.

Defendants may try to avoid drunk driving charges by saying they didn’t know there was alcohol in their drinks, Justice Donald Alexander wrote in a concurrent brief.

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John Burbank was arrested and charged with operating under the influence and operating beyond license restrictions in August 2016 after police found him with a blood alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit.

Burbank’s attorneys argued in Lincoln County court that he suffers from a rare condition known as auto-brewery syndrome, in which the body involuntarily ferments alcohol in its digestive system and intoxicates the person.

But the lower court did not accept testimony from Burbank’s two witnesses supporting the claim, determining one was unqualified and the other was submitted too late.

[Hope woman pleads guilty to manslaughter, OUI in fatal crash case]

Without the witnesses, Burbank pleaded no contest to the charges and pursued a[n appeal.

On Thursday, Maine’s top court issued its ruling that the lower court was acting within its constitutional right to block the two witnesses, acknowledging the first, a toxicologist, had “no training or work experience relating to the condition,” and the second was brought forward more than a year after an early 2017 dispositional conference.

However, the state supreme court made it a point to say it was not ruling the defense itself was inadmissible, just that the lower court was fine to reject those two particular witnesses.

“[O]ur opinion should not be construed as implicitly accepting the notion that the crime of OUI does not encompass a situation where the alcohol in the accused’s system is generated through some endogenous process,” the ruling, written by Justice Jeffrey Hjelm, read, in part.

[Maine’s top court suspends Portland attorney]

That aspect of the ruling could be problematic, Alexander wrote in his concurrent brief, as it bucks decades of precedent saying that it’s illegal to drive while intoxicated, whether the person was responsible for their own intoxication or not.

State statute, which was reinforced by a 1980 court ruling in another case, says that in order to be guilty of operating under the influence, a person must be simply operating a motor vehicle and under the influence of intoxicants, Alexander wrote.

The justice continued that he worries the court’s decision “perhaps [suggests] that involuntariness might be a defense to an excessive blood alcohol charge.”

“If the court’s approach prevails, and the ‘uncommon’ defense is left unaddressed, it may invite many ‘I didn’t know there was vodka in my orange juice’ or similar defenses” to drunk driving charges, Alexander wrote.

[Maine man arrested in connection with suspected overdose death]

The justice wrote that the courts should have rejected the witnesses in question not because of their qualifications or timeliness, but because it shouldn’t have mattered whether Burbank suffered from auto-brewery syndrome under state law.

“This court should decide the issue of involuntary intoxication defense directly rather than to appear to acknowledge it by reaching the expert qualifications issue while deferring the issue we decided 40 years ago ‘to another day,’” Alexander wrote.

Man arrested on suspicion of OWI at Taco Bell

drunk driving. MWC file photo.
drunk driving. MWC file photo. 

WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) — An incident at a Wausau Taco Bell drive-thru led to the arrest of a 26-year-old man for third offense OWI.

Employees of the Grand Avenue Taco Bell location reported a man asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle in the drive-thru lane at around 3 AM Sunday. Upon further investigation, officers found a reason to believe the man was intoxicated and driving with a revoked license.

A passenger in the front seat was also asleep when officers arrived.

The situation could have been much worse, as the car was still in drive but the man’s foot was on the brake.

The man’s identity has not been released.

Man charged after striking house with pickup truck

Hudson man charged after striking house with pickup truck

Hudson man charged after striking house with pickup truckHUDSON, N.H. —

A driver is facing a DWI charge after striking a Hudson home with his pickup truck Monday.

Just before 6 p.m., Hudson police and firefighters responded to 1 River Ave. for a report of a motor vehicle collision into a residence. First responders located a 2003 Chevrolet pickup crashed into the corner of the house.

The driver, Gregory Black, 64, of Hudson, appeared to have minor injuries and was transported to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua. While at the hospital, Black was placed under arrest for suspicion of driving while intoxicated and was released on bail. 


The truck was extensively damaged. There was some exterior damage to the front of the house. The Hudson building inspector responded and found no structural damage. There were no injuries reported inside the house.

This crash remains under investigation

Matt Gaetz DUI Arrest: What Led to His Mugshot

matt gaetz mugshot

Getty Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was arrested in 2008 on suspicion of DUI, but was never charged.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican representing Florida’s first congressional district, made headlines after tweeting a post aimed at former Trump attorney Michael Cohen that instantly raised questions about possible witness intimidation. 

Rep. Gaetz posted the tweet the day before Cohen was scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee. It read, “Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…”

Hey @MichaelCohen212 – Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she’ll remain faithful when you’re in prison. She’s about to learn a lot…

— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) February 26, 2019

Rep. Gaetz has quickly denied that his statement could be viewed as a threat. He told reporters at the Capitol, “We’re witness testing, not witness tampering. And when witnesses come before Congress, their truthfulness and veracity are in question and we have the opportunity to test them.” When asked to clarify what his tweet meant, he responded, “I think my tweet speaks for itself. You should go read it.”

Cohen is expected to provide evidence of alleged criminal misconduct by President Trump during his testimony before the House committee on February 27. Critics have argued whether Cohen’s statement can be trusted because he has admitted to lying to Congress before. 

This isn’t Rep. Gaetz’s first run-in with controversy. A picture that appears in a google search of his name is an old mugshot, which he has addressed multiple times in his political career.

Here’s what you need to know.

Matt Gaetz Was Arrested in 2008 On Suspicion of DUI Before He Was Elected to the Florida House 

Matt Gaetz

Matt Gaetz

Rep. Gaetz has prior experience making headlines for less-than-positive reasons. He has always been very open about his own brush with the law before he became a state congressman. (He was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2010 and to the U.S. Congress in 2016).

Gaetz was arrested on suspicion of DUI on October 30, 2008, when he was 26 years old. He was driving home from a nightclub and was pulled over for driving 48 in a 35 mile-per-hour zone, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The SUV belonged to his father, State Senator Don Gaetz. 

The deputy, identified as Chris Anglin of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department, wrote in the arrest report that Gaetz had been unsteady on his feet and that his eyes were bloodshot. Gaetz reportedly admitted to having had two beers and refused to perform a field sobriety test or take a breath test. 

Gaetz Was Never Convicted & He Has Promoted Efforts to Have Mugshots Removed From Private Websites 

The case against Gaetz was officially dropped in December of 2008. His attorney argued that there had been no evidence Gaetz had been impaired while behind the wheel. Deputy Anglin ended up quitting his job shortly after arresting Gaetz, after he was accused of grabbing a suspect’s neck during another arrest in early November.

Gaetz was never convicted for DUI. But his mugshot was published online. After becoming a Florida congressman, Gaetz supported efforts to have mugshots of unconvicted people removed from private websites. Nothing was passed while he was in state office. But in 2018, a Florida law went into effect that requires websites to take down mugshots if requested without charging a fee. 

Despite the lack of a conviction, Gaetz’s opponents used the DUI arrest against him in the 2018 midterm election. An anti-Republican political action committee paid for a billboard in Pensacola that included Gaetz’s mugshot and the words, “Rep. Matt Gaetz, how many DUIs have you had? The voters deserve to know.”

Former WWE Diva Tammy ‘Sunny’ Sytch Charged with Sixth DWI

Former WWE Diva Tammy 'Sunny' Sytch Charged with Sixth DWI

WWE Hall of Famer Tammy “Sunny” Sytch was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving Saturday after allegedly driving the wrong way down a one-way road with a suspended license.

Sytch, 46, was stopped in Seaside Heights just after 6:30 p.m. local time by officers from the Seaside Heights Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, according to the Asbury Park Press.

Seaside cops reportedly charged the wrestling star with DWI, having an open container in a motor vehicle, consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle, and reckless driving.

Officers from the sheriff’s office, meanwhile, reportedly charged Sytch with failure to stop at a stop sign, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, driving with a suspended driver’s license and careless driving.

The arrest comes just four months after she was released from an eight-month stint in prison. reports Sytch was also sitting on two outstanding warrants for her arrest from Holmdel and Knowlton, N.J., prompting the Seaside Heights Police Department to release her to the Holmdel Police Department.

Online records show she was booked into the Monmouth County Jail Saturday on charges of contempt, though the Asbury Park Press reports she has since been released after being seen by a judge via video conference.

Spokespersons from both the Seaside Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return PEOPLE’s requests for comment.

The arrest marks the sixth time Sytch has been cuffed for DWI, according to TMZ.

She was busted three times in 2018 alone, while the other arrests stretch back to 2012.

Sytch was released from jail in October after spending eight months behind bars, according to TMZ. She was previously locked up in September 2016 for violating parole, and was released in February 2017.

Sytch, who went by Sunny during her wrestling career, rose to fame as what many consider to be the very first WWE “Diva.”

She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011, after leaving the company in the late ‘90s.

Prosecutors: Child abandoned at scene of OUI crash was not the driver’s son

CHELSEA, Mass. – A Revere woman police say crashed her car while driving under the influence and abandoned a child at the scene was taken into custody after her arraignment.

Cecilia Miranda, 37, of Revere, was arraigned at Chelsea District Court on Tuesday. Miranda is facing nine different charges, including two counts of child endangerment while driving drunk.

Authorities say Miranda was driving with two children, aged 6 and 10, on Sunday just after midnight when she rolled her car into a ditch off Route 16 in Revere near the Route 1 on-ramp.

In court, prosecutors said Miranda had “multiple cans of beer” in the car at the time of the crash and that she had been at a party in Everett taking shots, according to witnesses.

According to investigators, Miranda was able to escape with the 6-year-old who was in the car, leaving behind the 10-year-old. Miranda and the child were taken to Massachusetts General Hospital.

The 10-year-old boy who was reportedly left at the scene of the crash was rescued by another person and taken to the hospital. 

Prosecutors said the 6-year-old was one of Miranda’s three children, but the 10-year-old was not. They added she seemed “indifferent” when questioned about the welfare of the 10-year-old she left at the scene.

Both children sustained serious injuries in the crash, but are expected to survive. A witness to the crash drove the 10-year-old to Boston Children’s due to the severity of his injuries.

Police later caught up with Miranda at MGH and placed her under arrest. Arresting officers noted Miranda had a slurred speech and couldn’t stand straight.

According to the arrest report, troopers say “She was unable to explain why she left the second child at the scene, stating that she ‘needed to be with her child and that my son was the only thing that mattered.'” 

When the troopers asked why she didn’t take both kids to the hospital “she shrugged and seemed indifferent to the welfare of the second child.”

She was bailed and released, but is facing charges for operating under the influence of alcohol with serious bodily injury and negligent operation, two counts of child endangerment with driving under the influence, leaving the scene of a personal injury crash, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, abandoning a motor vehicle, marked lanes violation, not having a car seat for a child under 8 and open container of alcohol.

Both children are expected to be OK. 

Miranda’s bail was set at $7,500. If posted, she must surrender her license, passport, obtain an alcohol monitoring bracelet and comply with DCF orders.

Driver suspected in fatal crash arrested next day in DUI, police say

SANDY — A driver under investigation for allegedly hitting and killing a Sandy man was arrested and charged with DUI for another incident the next day, according to court records.

Gordon Hal Holmstead, 68, of Sandy, was charged with DUI, a class B misdemeanor, in Sandy Justice Court.

On Feb. 8, two cars were stopped side-by-side at a red light at 8600 South in Sandy when Holmstead attempted to drive between them, damaging both cars and his own, according to a Salt Lake County Jail report.

After driving between the two cars, Holmsted’s vehicle rolled, the report states.

Holmsted was taken to Alta View Hospital, where police noted his speech was slow and slurred, and he kept nodding off while being interviewed, according to the report. Police say he admitted to taking several depressants before the crash.

That crash came the day after police say Holmstead hit and killed Fernando Cruz Lavana, 44, who was crossing the street at the intersection of 10400 South and Wasatch Boulevard.

Holmstead was in a Toyota Camry traveling south on Wasatch Boulevard, and Lavana “was walking in a clearly marked crosswalk with pedestrian signs” when he was hit, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in 3rd District Court.

“Mr Holmstead was not aware of his travel speed and stated he did not see Mr. Lavana until the vehicle he was operating made impact with Mr. Lavana,” the warrant states.

As of Wednesday, no formal criminal charges had been filed in that case.

Those two incidents follow a recent string of other bad driving incidents by Holmstead, according to court records.

On Feb. 2 — five days before the fatal auto-pedestrian crash — Holmstead was cited and later charged in Midvale Justice Court with failing to maintain control of a vehicle, a class B misdemeanor.

In January, Holmstead was convicted of impaired driving in Lehi Justice Court for an incident that happened in October. He was ordered to serve two days in jail, according to court records, and was also ordered to undergo an alcohol/substance abuse evaluation. But he failed to do that, according to an affidavit filed on Feb. 15.

In 2016, Holmstead was charged with negligent collision in Sandy Justice Court and took a plea in abeyance, meaning he pleaded guilty to the charge, which was later dismissed after he successfully completed the terms of his probation.