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Marijuana contributed to Wyoming triple fatal crash - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

Update

Marijuana contributed to Wyoming triple fatal crash

Posted: Updated:
(County 10) (County 10)
LANDER, Wyo. -

On Monday, Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen released the autopsy and toxicology results for the three individuals who were killed in the March 14th crash on Highway 789 just north of Lander.

The driver, 18-year-old Darion Wheeler died from head and chest trauma. Coroner Stratmoen released toxicology results and determined Wheeler had “Cannabis by-product levels that were higher than 10 times the limit that is considered impaired driving by studies from the National institutes of Health and the Highway Traffic Safety Administration.”

The deaths of passengers Destinee Wheeler, 15, of Hudson and Paul McEwan, 20, of Greybull, were determined to be homicides. The cause of death for Wheeler was determined to be “closed head trauma” while McEwan died of “closed head trauma and cervical neck fracture.” Both Wheeler and McEwan also had marijuana in their system at the time of the crash, according to toxicology results released by the coroner.

The following statement was also released today by Coroner Mark Stratmoen: 

The Fremont County Coroner’s Office is issuing a Public Health and Safety warning concerning the use and availability of illegal drugs in the County, specifically, Cannabis and its related derivatives.

The Coroner’s Office is required by law to release relevant toxicology information when it is related to any death. While our office will not get involved in discussing the changing values or opinions on the legality of Cannabis and its related derivatives, we do deal with the results of impaired driving as a result of the use of any substance, legal or illegal. Impaired driving was directly involved in a motor vehicle collision on March 14th, 2017 near Lander, which resulted in the deaths of three young people and serious injuries to another. We are seeing a trend of increased involvement and presence of such substances in recorded deaths.

The driver of the vehicle that lost control and precipitated the event in this case showed Cannabis by- product levels that were higher than 10 times the limit that is considered impaired driving by studies from the National institutes of Health and the Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These substances are also included under the Wyoming impaired driving statutes as being illegal for motor vehicle operation under WS 31-5- 233. Thus the manners of death in these cases are ruled an accident for the driver, and homicides for both passengers. Willful actions that result in the death of other individuals, in this case driving while impaired, make those deaths homicides. All individuals, regardless of age, need to remember that personal choices can have tragic consequences of loss for both families and the community as a whole.

It is hoped that awareness of the circumstances in this case will spur friends, families, and the public as a whole take steps to safeguard against any person driving while impaired, whether by alcohol or any other substance.

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