Guilty Plea In Fatal Crash, Driver Was On Prescription Drugs

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LACEY – A Whiting man has pled guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs and hitting an oncoming car which resulted in the death of the driver.javascript:window[“$iceContent”]

  William Orr, 70, of Whiting, pled guilty on April 22 to Vehicular Homicide as well as and Driving Under the Influence in regards to a car accident in 2018 that killed the other driver involved.javascript:window[“$iceContent”]

  On September 28, 2018, Lacey Township Police responded to the area of Lacey regarding a motor vehicle crash. 

  After the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Lacey Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit performed an investigation, they found that Orr was traveling westbound on Lacey Road in a 2018 Hyundai Elantra when he crossed over the center line and struck a 2017 Nissan Sentra head-on, which was being driven by Elizabeth Patashinsky, 40, of Palm Bay, Florida.  

  Patashinsky was then transported to Community Medical Center, where she succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased. While the passenger in Patashinsky’s vehicle, William Muset, 66, of Whiting, was transported to Community Medical Center, treated for his injuries, and released. 

  Orr was treated at the scene for his injuries and no signs of impairment were exhibited at the scene. He was unable to perform any field sobriety tests due to a back injury which required him to use a cane for balance. Subsequently, Orr was brought to Community Medical Center and voluntarily consented to a draw of his blood.

 On October 29, 2018, Orr’s blood results revealed the presence of four medications which had been lawfully prescribed to him:  Alprazolam, Gabapentin, Oxycodone and Zolpidem. There was no alcohol or illegal narcotics detected in Orr’s system, however, forensic toxicologists nonetheless concluded that the combined psychoactive effects of those medications made Orr unfit to safely operate a motor vehicle.  

  Orr was arrested and charged on October 29, 2018 at his residence and transported to the Ocean County Jail, but released by the Court on November 2, 2018 as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.

  At the time of Orr’s sentencing on May 10, the State will be seeking a term of three years in New Jersey State Prison with a three-year-term of parole ineligibility.

  “But for the compassionate and forgiving nature of the victim’s family – and their unequivocal desire to achieve closure after this two-and-one-half yearlong nightmare – this plea agreement would never have even been contemplated by this Office, let alone approved,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer stated. “It is only by the grace of Ms. Patashinsky’s family that we agreed to a sentence that is significantly less than what would otherwise have been recommended to the Court. This defendant should consider himself very fortunate that the victim’s family – in a show of tremendous mercy – requested this case be resolved is this manner,” Prosecutor Billhimer added. “I wish to remind the public that impaired driving is not limited to being under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol. The combined effects of ingesting even prescription medications might very well have a deleterious impact upon one’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. I urge all motorists who use prescription medications to exercise extreme caution before they drive; failure to do so may produce deadly consequences, as this case so painfully demonstrates,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

  Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Michael Abatemarco who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Lacey Township Police Department, Stafford Township Police Department, Manchester Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation, ultimately resulting in the guilty plea.

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