Drunken driver killed in DWI wreck had taken ADHD meds before the crash
OLD BRIDGE – The cause of death of 26-year-old Ashley Sara Chieco, who was killed in a car crash last summer while she was driving under the influence of Adderall or similar ADHD medication, swerving in a stolen SUV the wrong way on Route 18, has not been clear to the investigators.
According to the police and an attorney who viewed Chieco’s autopsy report, the cause of death is not known. However, Chieco had a blood-alcohol level of 0.189 at the time of her autopsy, which is more than double the legal limit. Her blood test also revealed that she was positive for Adderall or similar medication which is used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. According to police reports, Chieco had a prescription for the medication.
Adderall is prescribed to adults with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The medication is sometime prescribed for weight loss.
Chieco, a crisis counselor from Wood-Ridge, was out drinking vodka with a friend on 16 August, 2013 at Martell’s Tiki Bar in Point Pleasant Beach. After drinking, she climbed into an SUV which she thought was hers, but was not, and she attempted to drive home in Bergen County. While she was driving home, she collided head-on with a vehicle which was being driven by Dana Corrar of Old Bridge.
According to witnesses, Chieco was travelling the wrong way on Route 18 South and was swerving her vehicle to avoid the on-coming traffic. She hit Corrar’s car, who sustained serious injuries in the accident. Corrar had to spend several months in a hospital and assisted living facility to regain her health.
Chieco died shortly after the accident.
The SUV which Chieco was driving belonged to a couple who had left it in a Martell’s-owned parking lot. The keys of the SUV were left inside the vehicle according to the request of the valet attendants. Chieco stole the car after she left the Tiki Bar, thinking it was her vehicle.
Corrar’s attorney, Paul Edelstein of New York, along with an attorney for Chieco’s parents, are suing Martell’s. The attorneys claim that the bartenders continued to serve alcohol to Chieco even though she was visibly intoxicated.
According to Chieco’s credit card receipt, she ordered her first drink shortly after 11 a.m. She continued to drink for several hours till the time she left the bar at about 5:30 p.m.
Edelstein claims that Adderall or similar medication was not responsible for intensifying Chieco’s intoxication or play any role in the accident.
“Adderall mixed with alcohol does not bring you to another level of intoxication,” he said.
Chieco’s autopsy report as disclosed earlier this year by Old Bridge police. The report stated that a small amount of a drug was found in Chieco’s blood. The name of the drug was not disclosed at the time, but the report stated that Chieco had a medical condition and she was taking a prescription drug for that. That drug was not believed to have played any role in the accident.
It is not yet clear if the combination of that medicine with alcohol had to play any role in the crash.
The case has been taken up by Dr. John Brick, who is an expert on alcohol and drug studies. According to Dr. Brick, the use of alcohol with Adderall or similar ADHD medication could offset the depressant effects of alcohol. This effect reduces the fatigue that normally follows intoxication.
According to Dr. Brick, “The potential prevention problem from such a situation is that the person continues to consume alcohol without the drink-rate limitation that might come from being tired (and) calling it a night.”
He also said that the combination of Adderall and ADHD with an intoxicant depends on a number of factors such as the person’s weight, the dosage taken etc. However, the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education at the University of Notre Dame advises people not to mix alcohol with Adderall or other stimulants.
The University states that “The stimulant effect can cause (drinkers) to prolong use resulting in consuming unhealthy amounts of alcohol which has lead to cases of alcohol poisoning.” Presence of other stimulants in the system can also block the depressant effect, which shuts off any warning signs to the person’s body that they may be drinking too much.
The effect of Adderall used with alcohol is not clear and toxicologists hold different opinions on the matter.
Edelstein argued that if Adderall affected Ashley’s ability to know how much she was drinking, then the bar should have stopped her from drinking because they surely knew how much she was drinking.
Martell’s Tiki Bar has not yet responded despite repeated requests for comment on the story.
News Source: www.NJ.com