Driver Charged with Homicide in Accident That Killed Siblings

Driver Charged with Homicide in Accident That Killed Siblings

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Samantha Hayes ReportingThe man accused of running over and killing two children and injuring a third faces serious criminal charges tonight.

The Salt Lake District Attorney's Office filed the charges late this afternoon after the results of the driver's blood test show he had several different drugs in his system.

Blood tests show 19-year old Michael Joseph Whitten had several different drugs in his system last Thursday. That's when police say Whitten drove his late model Buick into the path of three children playing in their driveway.

Four-year old Yanira Robles and nine-year old Jorge died. Their brother, six-year old Christopher is in the hospital and is expected to recover.

In addition to alcohol, tests indicate Whitten was taking a combination of controlled substances: marijuana, amphetamines or meth, opiates, and the active ingredient in drugs like Valium.

Now he is facing two counts of Automobile Homicide, driving under the influence, and failure to stop at the scene of the accident. Whitton has not been convicted on these charges, so B.J. VanRoosendaal with the State Division of Substance Abuse speaks from other cases she has seen.

B.J. VanRoosendaal, State Division of Substance Abuse: “Someone who is addicted to meth, especially someone deeply into it, it can affect driving ability, judgment, even become paranoid sometimes. It just has a terrible effect."

VanRoosendaal says dosage, frequency and time using meth are all factors. And many users take a combination of drugs with it.

B.J. VanRoosendaal, State Division of Substance Abuse: “Most drug users in Utah and nationally are poly drug users. And that means if he was mainly into meth he would use other drugs to moderate effects of methamphetamine. If he was too high he might smoke marijuana to moderate the effect of that."

Michael Whitton will appear in court to face those charges tomorrow.

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