Cocaine and Benzodiazepines Found in Blood of Man Involved in Deadly Collision

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By Pedro Maturana

The trial of Tyler Austin McLean began Wednesday with opening statements and witness testimony. McLean is being charged with vehicular manslaughter after a head-on collision that killed Knights Landing man, Juan Alberto Bravo.

Deputy District Attorney David W. Robbins began his opening statement by describing the events of October 1, 2016.

Mr. Bravo was driving home on Old River Road in West Sacramento after getting off work from Radial Tires. Around the same time Mr. McLean was driving to his mother’s house to pick up his kids after a night of partying with his friends in Sacramento.

At around 12:30 pm, McLean crossed the double yellow lines into opposing traffic and came in to a collision course with Ms. M and Ms. S who were driving towards Woodland with their children at the time.

As soon as Ms. M saw McLean’s car, she swerved onto the shoulder and barely avoided a head-on collision. The Ms. S through the side view mirror as McLean’s car violently collided with the car behind them. McLean’s hit Bravo’s car head on. Bravo was killed instantly from blunt force trauma.

Robbins emphasized that after the accident McLean kept repeating that he had drank too many beers. Yet a breathalyzer test came back negative for alcohol. McLean later tested positive for cocaine and benzodiazepines.

Public Defense Attorney Karen Soell reiterated the same story. Yet, she emphasized that after the crash McLean was disoriented and in pain. She planned to show the jury evidence of how long those the substances found in McLean can stay in someone’s system.

The People called the Ms. M to the stand. Ms. M recalled that on December 1, 2016 around 12:30 pm she was going 60-65 miles per hour on Old River Road, until her friend, Ms. S, in the passenger seat cried out, “… oh my goodness, there’s a car in our lane!”

After they swerved out of the way, Ms. S saw that a maroon Honda sedan hit the vehicle behind them. Ms. M quickly made a U-turn and parked across from the collision. She got out and went to the maroon car first where she noticed a fire under the hood.

“We need to get you out,” she told the driver. The driver replied that he couldn’t move. Ms. M unbuckled his seatbelt and picked him up out of the car and dropped him down on the highway.

Ms. M went to the other vehicle and tried to talk to the driver. The airbag was out, and the front of the car was crushed. Ms. M reached through the window and tapped his shoulders. The driver did not respond.

Ms. M identified the driver of the maroon Honda as the defendant, Tyler McLean.

Soell asked Ms. M about some of the things she told police when they arrived. Ms. M couldn’t recall some of the details as it had been two years since the accident. Ms. M also could not estimate the distance of the maroon Honda from her car the second she veered out of the way.

Robbins asked Ms. M what McLean was saying to her at the scene. Ms. M testified that McLean kept repeating that he shouldn’t have drank so much.

Robbins Called Ms. S to the stand.

Ms. S recalls going at a safe speed as they were not in a hurry. When they swerved onto the shoulder, she was shocked that they didn’t go over the bump on the shoulder and down a slope towards the river.

Ms. S testified that McLean isn’t slowing down. She didn’t hear screeching tires and she didn’t see him jerk back into his lane.

Ms. S testified that after McLean was pulled out of the car, she knelt by him. She noticed that he was mumbling. She tried to get a phone number from him, but he wasn’t making much sense. She noticed that he was bleeding from his knees and she saw a lot of flesh.

Choking up, Ms. S testified that at that moment Ms. M came from the other car and said that the other driver was not alive.

Robbins called Officer Joel Merrill who was at the scene to the stand.

Merrill described the vehicles in the accident as a maroon Honda Accord and a Green Honda Civic. The maroon Honda had major front-end damage. It was pushed inwards towards the inside of the car. The entire front portion was burned.

The green Honda also had considerable damage. The entire front and the engine were pushed inward toward the driver and passenger compartments. Merrill testified that the damage was consistent with a major head on collision.

Merrill said that he saw Mr. Bravo laying on the highway. He checked Bravo’s artery and didn’t receive a pulse.

According to Merrill, a lot of energy was released during impact. The firewall of Bravo’s vehicle, which separated the engine from the passenger compartment, had reached inside of the car. Merrill explained that the firewall is reinforced to protect the inside of the vehicle from the engine in case of a collision.

Merrill spoke to McLean at the scene. He said McLean was unaware of what had happened. He told Merrill that he drank too many beers. Merrill did not smell alcohol on him. Merrill then conducted a breathalyzer test. The results read zero. Merrill asked McLean if he had done any drugs. McLean responded yes to marijuana but nothing else.

Merrill testified that McLean was flown to UC Davis medical center in Sacramento where he went into emergency surgery. Merrill could not get a blood sample at this time because of McLean’s condition. Instead he obtained a warrant for McLean’s medical records.

Soell asked Merrill if he was aware that according to the Mayo clinic benzodiazepines can stay in the body for up to 30 days, and cocaine up to four days. Merrill confirmed.

Upon questioning by Mr. Robbins, Merrill testified that when an individual takes a stimulant and a depressant, the effects of the depressant will be intensified when the stimulant wears off. Merrill said that he believed drugs played a part in the collision.

Robbins called William Carpenter, the paramedic at the scene, to the stand.

Carpenter was directed to to check the Bravo when he first arrived at the scene. Carpenter testified that he could not find a pulse or breathing. Carpenter declared him deceased.

Carpenter then went to check on McLean. He first checked for any life-threatening injuries from head to toe. He had McLean’s clothes cut off and noticed bruises on his abdomen. Carpenter concluded that the bruises on his abdomen were consistent with internal bleeding.

Carpenter asked McLean if he had done any drugs. McLean responded that he had some beers and a bottle of Nyquil. Carpenter tried to clarify if he had drunk the entire bottle to which McLean said yes.

Carpenter testified that McLean’s answers were abnormal. He also mentioned that his behavior could be consistent with head trauma.


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The Vanguard Court Watch puts 8 to 12 interns into the Yolo County House to monitor and report on what happens. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org

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