David Lee Hinton, the driver who struck and killed a bicyclist on East Harbor Road this summer, had opioids in his system, according to court documents.
A sample of his blood taken nearly four hours after the accident was found to contain .059 mg/L of Oxycodone, an opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain, the Washington State Patrol Toxicology Laboratory has determined. The blood draw was taken with a warrant following Hinton’s failure of a field sobriety test at the scene of the crash and his subsequent arrest for suspicion of vehicular homicide, court documents state.
The Island County Prosecutor’s office has not filed charges against Hinton for his role in the death of Randall Lorraine, a Langley resident, who was killed while riding his bike home from work. In a recent email to The Record, Deputy Prosecutor Michael Safstrom confirmed he’d received the lab results, the state patrol’s reports and consulted with a forensic scientist from the agency’s toxicology laboratory, but that more information is needed before the office can decide whether the state will file formal charges against Hinton.
“Based on my review of this information, I’ve requested additional items from WSP and will make a final charging decision once I have all potentially relevant information,” Safstrom wrote.
The state patrol makes charging recommendations, but the final decision is up to the prosecutor’s office.
Unlike alcohol and marijuana, the state doesn’t have codified blood content thresholds for all the various drugs or intoxicants that can impair drivers. According to Trooper Heather Axtman, a spokeswoman for the state patrol, officers look for signs of impairment and conduct field sobriety tests. That information is used in combination with laboratory results to form a recommendation of charges. But, in the end, whether a person was really impaired is determined by an expert, specifically a toxicologist.
“That comes down to a toxicology question,” Axtman said.
“There so many drugs out there and unfortunately there’s no definitive lines on all of them,” she said.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Hinton, 52 years old at the time of the crash, was driving north on East Harbor Road in his gray 1997 Lexus sedan at about 9:12 p.m. when his vehicle struck Lorraine, who was on a bicycle and also northbound. Trooper Josh Lancaster responded to the crash and made contact with Hinton.
“Mr. Hinton told the trooper he did not see the bicyclist,” the affidavit said. “Trooper Lancaster observed the (sic) David Hinton’s eyes were bloodshot, watery and had a slightly glassy appearance, and he could smell the slight odor of intoxicants coming from his breath. David Hinton admitted to drinking two ‘Mike’s Hard Lemonades’ while golfing earlier in the day.”
The document said Hinton agreed to perform a field sobriety test, and that Lancaster observed “lack of smooth pursuit in both eyes” and that Hinton “could not complete the distinct and sustained nystagmus at the maximum deviation portion of the test.”
“Trooper Lancaster observed four of eight clues during the walk and turn and two of four clues during the one-leg stand,” the affidavit said. Hinton was placed under arrest at 9:53 p.m.
The document noted that Island County Sheriff’s Deputy T. Wasser observed Lorraine riding his bike shortly before the collision and that he had a flashing rear light, a headlight and was riding on the shoulder of the road.