Drugs were involved in fatal crash
The woman who caused a double-fatal Sept. 25 crash near Mitchell had drugs in her system, the Highway Patrol reported Monday.
Tests at the State Health Lab showed evidence of marijuana, and also hydrocodone, in the blood of Sara Ann Claggett, 23, of Tripp. The Highway Patrol did not find evidence of a prescription for the hydrocodone, but a spokesman said the Patrol does not know for certain that Claggett lacked a prescription for the painkiller. Earlier test results ruled out the presence of alcohol in Claggett’s blood.
The release of the toxicology report concludes the investigation, the Highway Patrol spokesman said.
The Highway Patrol also said its investigation confirmed that, about three minutes prior to the crash, a 911 caller reported Claggett’s white van being driven erratically on Highway 37 south of Mitchell.
Mitchell Chief of Public Safety Lyndon Overweg said the call to Mitchell’s dispatch service about the erratic driver came at 4:16 p.m. Sept. 25. It was relayed to the Davison County Sheriff’s Office at 4:18 p.m., and the crash had already occurred by 4:19 p.m.
Overweg said there was not sufficient time for authorities to prevent the accident, but he still encourages motorists who spot potentially impaired drivers to call 911.
“We take all the calls seriously and they all get dispatched out,” he said.
Claggett was southbound on state Highway 37 when her vehicle drifted into the northbound lane and collided with a pickup driven by Donald Julius Geidel, 82, of Dimock. The collision happened about five miles south of Mitchell.
Both vehicles caught fire and both drivers died, but Claggett’s 2-year-old daughter — the only other occupant in either vehicle — was pulled from her vehicle by other motorists who saw the crash. A family member said Monday that the daughter is still recovering from her injuries, which include several broken bones.
Blood tests on Geidel did not find evidence of any controlled substances in his system.