Apr 17, 2019

State vs. DS

DS, a fifty-nine (59) year old part-time resident of Pinellas County was arrested on November 12, 2018 for DUI Manslaughter and DUI involving property damage. Attorney Anthony Rickman worked with the State and successfully mitigated both charges from being filed against Mr. DS.

On November 12, 2018 (the day of the accident), Mr. DS traveled to his doctor’s office for a visit to discuss his treatment plan for combating his diagnosed medical condition of Lyme Disease. Prior to this visit, DS had been feeling sick and experiencing symptoms related to his many ailments. Upon arriving at approximately 8:00 a.m., DS was seen by his nurse practitioner. During this visit, he was examined in relation to Lyme Disease, hormone imbalance, fungus and insulin resistance. It was noted by his ARPN that he presented with a cough, congestion and low oxygen saturation. According to the practitioner, Mr. DS he was not under the influence of alcohol and gave no
indication that he had consumed alcohol.

At approximately 11:00 a.m., he left his residence arriving at John’s Pass at 11:30 a.m. While at John’s Pass, DS did some shopping and ate lunch at approximately 12:30 p.m. With his lunch, DS consumed beer (as he told the Deputy at the hospital); however, he did not drink in excess, and did not consume an amount of alcohol that would cause him to be impaired. The beer that he drank with his lunch was the only alcohol that DS consumed on the day of this incident.

At approximately 1:35 p.m., Mr. DS entered his vehicle and began driving North on Gulf Boulevard toward his residence. While driving, he had a medical episode which caused him to excessively cough. The coughing spell caused DS to “black out” and ultimately lose consciousness. This “Syncopal episode” caused DS to lose control of his vehicle resulting in it crossing into the opposite lane (of the one-way) on Gulf Boulevard. After crossing into the oncoming traffic lane, DS’s vehicle made impact with the front of a bus, striking Michael Richardson who was loading his bicycle on to the front rack. Tragically, the impact killed Mr. Richardson. DS was not injured from the accident.

After regaining conscious, DS exited his vehicle gasping for air. As he leaned against his vehicle, he again lost consciousness, experiencing a second syncopal episode. According to the reports from the hospital and EMS, DS remained unconscious for over two minutes while EMS attempted to stabilize him. Upon rendering aid to him, paramedics noted that he had “No Pulse” and was in Tachycardia. Since he had no radial pulse and a systolic blood pressure below 90mmHg, he was transported to the hospital under a trauma alert. While in transport, he lost consciousness again, having a third syncopal episode. The description of DS’s condition, particularly the fact that he had no pulse, and was in tachycardia when EMS arrived establishes that he was in the midst of a medical emergency prior to and after the crash. His medical condition coupled with the fact that nowhere in the Sunstar and hospital intake records does it indicate that DS exhibited any signs of alcohol impairment further establishes that the crash was a result of DS having a documented medical emergency.

Upon arriving at the hospital DS was evaluated and treated in relation to the events that caused him to lose consciousness prior to the crash. As indicated in the hospital records, the focus of this treatment was the cause of the “Syncope”, as DS was not injured from the crash. During this evaluation, blood was drawn at 3:02 p.m. (1 hour and 8 minutes after driving). According to his hospital discharge record’s, DS’s blood indicated an ETOH (Blood Serum/Medical Blood) value of .083 gm/dl. Applying the ratio converting serum results to legal blood, DS BAC at the hospital falls within the range between a .061 g/ml and a .075 g/ml with an average BAC of approximately .068 g/ml. Although this ETOH value established the presence of alcohol in DS’s blood, the conversion to “legal blood” shows that DS’s BAC one hour after driving was below a .08 g/ml.

The law distinguishes between driving after the consumption of alcohol, which is legal, and driving with a BAC over a .08 g/ml. When applying the principles of absorption and elimination using reverse extrapolation, DS BAC at the time of driving would have also been below a .08 g /ml. Assuming in arguendo that DS; who weighs 240 pounds; consumed three (3) twenty-five oz. beers (at 4.3% volume) between the time of 11:50 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., his BAC at the time of driving (1:54 p.m.) would have been between .045 g/ml and a .059 g/ml. Approximately one hour and eight minutes later, his BAC would have been between a .045 g/ml and a .068 g/ml. Ironically, one hour after driving (when applying the serum to legal blood conversion), DS average BAC level at the hospital at 3:02 p.m. was approximately .068 g/ml. As such, although there may be evidence that DS consumed alcohol on the day of the incident, there is insufficient evidence establishing that he was impaired by alcohol or had a BAC over a .08 g/ml. (see attached pharmacology report).

After initial examination in the Emergency Department, DS was admitted into Bayfront Hospital where he would stay for three days undergoing a litany of tests and analysis to determine what caused his loss of consciousness. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with Syncope, Pericardial Effusion, and a cough, in addition to his multiple pre-existing conditions such as Lyme Disease, Hypertension, Diabetes, and Ineffective Breathing. This diagnosis was made based on the evaluations at the hospital, how he presented to EMS (no pulse/tachycardia), and his past medical history, which includes prior episodes of syncope.

Attorney Anthony Rickman, through the thorough examination and presentation of these facts to the State, convinced the State to not file charges against DS resulting in a No File on the DUI Manslaughter arrest and a Nolle Prosse on the DUI involving Property Damage arrest.