Driver charged in fatal crash on W.Va. 45

November 09, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A Berkeley County man was charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence with death after a Tuesday afternoon crash on W.Va. 45 left a 40-year-old woman dead, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Rocky Eugene Simmons, 33, of 616 Arnold Drive, Glengary, W.Va., was in Eastern Regional Jail Wednesday night after being arraigned by Berkeley County Magistrate Joan V. Bragg, who set a $10,000 bond, according to court documents.

Joyce A. Morris of Gerrardstown, W.Va., died from injuries she received in the crash, which happened near Hernandez Store in the 8000 block of the road, which also is known as Apple Harvest Drive, according to police.

The crash was reported at 3:20 a.m., and still is under investigation, police said Wednesday.

Morris was a passenger in a westbound 1992 Honda Accord, which turned left and into the path of a 1988 Jeep Cherokee that Simmons was driving east, according to police and court records.

Berkeley County Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster Jr. said that the driver of the Honda, who has not been identified by police, and three other passengers were being treated for nonlife-threatening injuries as a result of the accident.

Simmons failed three field sobriety tests, and police noticed that the defendant lost his balance when being instructed about the “walk and turn” test, according to court documents. Police said Simmons also took an incorrect number of steps and turned around improperly during the test, the documents said.

Simmons passed a preliminary breath test, and a secondary blood-alcohol test indicated his intoxication level was .000, according to court documents.

To determine if Simmons was under the influence of a substance other than alcohol, police have obtained a search warrant to obtain urine and blood samples from him, according to court documents.

After the crash, Simmons allegedly told police that he uses Suboxone and Lyrica, which are medications prescribed for treatment of heroin addiction and nerve pain, but indicated he did not take the drug on Tuesday.

Prior to taking the walk-and-turn and a one-leg-stand field sobriety tests, Simmons told police he had leg injuries from a prior accident. In Tuesday’s crash, Simmons told police he banged his knees off the dashboard of the Jeep he was driving and cut his arm on glass, according to court documents.

Simmons pleaded no contest to DUI in 2005, and was cited in June 2011 for reckless driving and no proof of insurance in a traffic stop, according to court documents. He also was cited for failure to maintain control in another traffic incident in December 2010, the documents said.

The citations issued in June were dismissed in September after the officer who issued them failed to appear for a magistrate court hearing. The 2010 citation also was dismissed by the state after insurance issues were resolved in that case, according to documents.

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