Despite attempts by a defense attorney to pin the deaths of a young couple on a truck driver, a jury in Lowell, Michigan has found another man, who was driving drunk, to be responsible. Joseph Jay Ford has been found guilty of drunken driving causing death and reckless driving causing death in the case of 20-year-old Andrea Herrera, and faces up to 15 years in prison.
On the night of October 10, 2013, truck driver Eric Walton was trying to make a left turn at the intersection of 36th Street SE and Patterson Avenue. Tragedy struck when John Jay Ford, who was driving drunk, ran a red light at 36th Street, causing his 2006 Dodge Charger to slam into a Mazda carrying Andrea Herrera and her boyfriend Eric Fischer. The collision caused the Mazda, driven by Fischer, to be pushed into the path of Walton’s semi, killing Herrera and Fischer instantly.
After the accident Walton got out of his cab to attempt to help the couple, however, it quickly became apparent that there was nothing he could do. Walton placed the 911 call to Lowell dispatchers, telling them “You gotta get here.”
Despite many pieces of evidence to support the notion that Ford was ultimately responsible for the deaths of Herrera and Fischer, Ford’s defense attorney Mark Dodge attempted to place the blame on Walton.
Walton testified to a jury that he saw Ford’s Charger run the red light, describing how it “came out of nowhere.” Dodge asked Walton if Walton was paying attention when the accident occurred and if he looked before he made his turn.
“Sir, I am a very thorough driver,” Walton told Dodge. “I understand what you’re trying to do, but that young man came out of nowhere.”
Walton did fail a drug test administered by his employer due to a “minute amount” of marijuana that was found in his system. Walton explained that the marijuana was a result of marijuana extract in candy form that a friend gave Walton two weeks prior when Walton was suffering a diabetic incident. Walton insisted that he was not high at the time of the crash, and that neither his driving ability of judgement were impaired at the time of the crash.
Ford, on the other hand, was most certainly impaired when the crash occurred. Blood samples at 11:37 p.m on the night of the accident by nurses at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital showed that Ford’s blood alcohol level at 0.125. Blood samples taken 30 minutes later and sent to the Michigan State Police lab showed a level of 0.087, just over the legal standard for drunkenness of 0.08. Dodge questioned whether isopropyl alcohol used to sterilize blood-draw needles could have impacted Ford’s blood tests, resulting in a higher reading than was accurate. Experts called by the prosecution said insisted that it could not.
A forensic analysis done by Michigan State police in January also indicated that Ford had amphetamines, morphine, and promethazine in his blood.
A jury found Ford to be guilty of the death of Andrea Herrera, but not Eric Fischer, despite the fact that the two were in the same vehicle. Autopsy reports showed that Fischer had a blood alcohol level of 0.11, over the legal limit. Ford faces a one-year misdemeanor offense of moving violation causing death for the death of Fischer.
Ford, who faces up to 15 years in jail, will be sentenced May 14.
Tags: drunk driving
, Eric Walton
, Joseph Jay Ford
, Truck Driver
, Trucking Accident