Marijuana is factor in Rock County fatal-crash charges

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Frank Schultz
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

JANESVILLE—Marijuana played a role in a fatal Rock County crash May 11, according to a criminal complaint filed in Rock County Court on Tuesday.

An Illinois man faces homicide charges in the crash that killed his passenger on a rural Rock County road.

Devon M. Hurd, 20, of Machesney Park, Illinois, is scheduled to make his initial appearance for the case in Rock County Court on Thursday.

Hurd is accused of having traces of marijuana in his blood as he drove the car that went off the road and crashed. The charges are homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and homicide by vehicle-use of controlled substance.

Wisconsin law does not specify a level of marijuana intoxication for the second charge. It states it's a crime to cause death by driving with “a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance” in the blood.

The state Crime Lab found 1.5 micrograms of marijuana's active ingredient per liter of Hurd's blood, the complaint states.

A deputy at the scene reported “a slight to moderate odor of intoxicants” while speaking with Hurd, the complaint states, and empty beer bottles were found in the car.

The complaint makes no mention of a blood-alcohol level for Hurd, however.

Hurd's passenger, Christopher T. Huggins, 20, of Rockford, Illinois, died from injuries suffered in the crash.

The crash occurred around 2:25 a.m. May 11 on Hopkins Road at Douglas Road in the town of Avon.

Hurd's car went off the road and hit three trees before it stopped. The front passenger side of the sedan was pushed into the middle of the car, according to the criminal complaint.

Huggins was pinned under the dashboard, still alive when a deputy arrived. Medical personnel worked on Huggins, but he was pronounced dead at 5:25 a.m., the complaint states.

The car was traveling 89 mph 2.5 seconds before impact, according to data from the car's airbag control module. The maximum speed on the road was 55 mph.

The data showed that continuous braking slowed the car to 53 mph just before impact, the complaint states.

Hurd told a deputy at the scene that he lost control when he hit some gravel and went into the ditch and stated: “I was probably going a little fast,” according to the complaint.

Hurd told the deputy he was traveling from a friend's house in Durand, Illinois, and was trying to get to Rockford. He said he was trying to drive to a place where he could get a GPS signal to find his way home, the complaint states.

The maximum penalties for the negligent homicide charge include 10 years in prison. The maximum prison term for homicide by vehicle-use of controlled substance is 25 years.

Hurd previously pleaded no contest to a citation for unreasonable and imprudent speed and was found guilty of that offense on June 12.

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