Was Trucker High in Fatal Crash? Prosecutors Reverse Course
Fresno County, CA – In a reversal, prosecutors declined to charge a Maryland truck driver for driving under the influence (DUI) after authorities say he ran a stop sign and killed a 19-year-old female motorist last Friday night.
Truck driver Andre Hill Jr., 31, of Baltimore, MD, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to one count of vehicular manslaughter stemming from a crash on September 27 that took the life of Olivia Mendoza, 19, of Fresno, CA.
In a court appearance on Wednesday, Hill’s public defender, Ariel Armendariz, asked the judge to allow Hill to leave jail on his own recognizance after entering a not guilty plea.
The judge set Hill’s bail at $10,000.
However, prosecutors were expected to file a DUI charge against Hill after California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers reported Hill failed a field sobriety test at the scene following the fatal crash.
According to CHP, Hill was unable to walk a straight line and officers believed he was high on marijuana.
Video of the scene captured by local news outlet ABC30 shows Hill struggling to stand and maintain his balance while attempting to walk.
He was booked into Fresno County Jail pending expected charges of DUI, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
In a twist, prosecutors say the results of Hill’s toxicology report did not support the DUI charge.
CHP says “drug recognition experts” are continuing to investigate Hill’s toxicology results.
Hill is still facing the vehicular manslaughter charge after CHP investigators say he failed to stop his tractor-trailer at a stop sign as Mendoza was driving a Honda Civic through the intersection of Mountain View and Clovis avenues at approximately 7:10 p.m. on Friday just outside Selma.
Hill, who was hauling a load of produce, continued northbound after striking Mendoza’s vehicle, and then collided head-on with another tractor-trailer.
Neither Hill nor the driver of the second big rig suffered serious injuries, CHP reports.
Hill is expected to be back in court on Friday.
TransportationNation.com will continue to monitor this case.