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Driver in fatal crash had ‘toxic’ level of drugs

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Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012 8:10 am | Updated: 10:51 am, Fri Nov 30, 2012.

Collision that killed Sonora’s ‘flower guy’

Murphys resident Penny Miles had such high levels of a cocktail of drugs in her system on the day she caused a double fatal crash on Highway 49, she very well could have “passed out” while driving, according to Calaveras County Coroner Kevin Raggio.

The toxicology report showed she had acetaminophen, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, alprazolam, trazodone and methadone in her system.

“She was overdosed,” Raggio said.

The report came back showing “potentially toxic” levels of more than one drug in her system.

“Depending on when she took them, they could have hit her at any time,” Raggio said. “They probably took effect while she was driving, and she quite possibly could have passed out at those levels.”

Officer Jaime Castillo with the California Highway Patrol said he did not know whether Miles had a prescription for the drugs in her system, and CHP didn’t plan on finding out.

“We’ll just say she was under the influence of prescription medication, and that was determined to be the cause of the collision,” he said. “We don’t know if she was prescribed those or not. You’d have to talk to her family and doctors and stuff like that.”

“With this case, prescription medication, why she had such large amounts, that’s up to her doctors,” he continued. “Whether she abused those amounts, is up to her doctors or her own personal responsibility.”

Penny Ann “Harris” Miles, 52, died Sept. 29 on Highway 49 just south of the Calaveras County Airport from injuries sustained in a head-on collision. The crash also killed Eleazar “Ed” Rodriguez Ochoa, 49, and left his 10-year-old daughter Stacey in critical condition. She barely survived.

Evidence found in the wreckage led a CHP officer to write in his report he suspected Miles may have been under the influence, which could have been a contributing factor in the collision. Whether she was suspected to be under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both was not made clear by the California Highway Patrol.

On the day of the crash, Miles was driving a 2007 Toyota Tacoma southbound when she allowed it to veer across double yellow lines and into oncoming traffic at 12:55 p.m.

In the initial report, CHP said this unsafe driving movement was “possibly due to her intoxication.”

That suspicion was confirmed upon the receipt of the toxicology report.

Rodriguez Ochoa, who was known as the “flower guy,” was a regular at the Sonora Farmers Market. He was returning from the farmers market on a Saturday afternoon in a 1996 Chevy 16-foot box truck when Miles’ vehicle veered directly in front of him, which caused the head-on collision, the report said. Both vehicles sustained major damage, and when emergency medical personnel arrived on scene both Miles and Rodriguez were pronounced dead, the report continued.

Rodriguez’s daughter was riding in the front passenger seat of his truck. She was transported via life flight to UC Davis Medical Center to be treated for major injuries, the report said.

All those involved were wearing seatbelts, and the speed at which each vehicle was traveling was not known.

“It makes a difference when you mix things,” Raggio said of the many prescription drugs in Miles’ system. “She was toxic on methadone. The whole cocktail there,” he said referring to the toxicology report, “shows she was very much under the influence.”

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  • Springsbunny12 posted at 11:54 am on Fri, Nov 30, 2012.

    Springsbunny12 Posts: 68

    I am sorry for the loss of your cousin. I am really sorry for the loss of the innocent life she took while driving under the influence. Just because a medication is "prescribed" does NOT mean a person can drive while taking said medication. There are even colorful bold printed warning labels on all narcotic meds specifically warning the user to not operate heavy machinery (aka an automobile). This accident was 100% preventable. That is a fact. I am confused as to why you would think a "street" drug could be any worse than the cocktail of pills in her system that she chose to swallow then drive? Driving while medicated is no different than driving while on a street drug or alcohol. You just don't do it.

  • sd63 posted at 9:23 am on Fri, Nov 30, 2012.

    sd63 Posts: 4

    I for one wish the CHP had looked into whether or not the meds she had in her system were prescribed or not. Then it would have been reported that all the meds in her system WERE PRESCRIBED. How do I know? Penny is my cousin! I don't know why she was on Methadone, I suspect it was because of all the other meds the doctor had her on. There were no illegal drugs in her system, she wasn't a "street drug" user. So before you spew your hatred, find out the facts first!

  • shifty posted at 3:59 pm on Mon, Nov 26, 2012.

    shifty Posts: 93

    especially those law breakers that think that smoking pot is okay, that is drugged driving too.

  • a2ron posted at 9:16 am on Mon, Nov 26, 2012.

    a2ron Posts: 97

    not sure how she would spend 20 years in prison since she was killed in the accident?And why should other people be in jail because of her actions? I am sure you know plenty of people that speed,text while driving, not using turn signalsand even drive intoxicated, should you be hauled off to jail for knowing this?

  • Cleareye posted at 8:42 am on Mon, Nov 26, 2012.

    Cleareye Posts: 630

    She needs to spend at least 20 years in prison. The law should also be investigating anyone who might have known of the risks of her driving. They also should be in jail.

  • ecoalex posted at 10:53 am on Sun, Nov 25, 2012.

    ecoalex Posts: 138

    Many accidents are caused by sober ,but distracted drivers;drivers texting,on phones,or multitasking while driving.Distracted driving is the same as impaired driving. Ms Miles killed 2 innocents in her selfish pursuit of a continued high.

  • Mike Bullard posted at 11:08 pm on Fri, Nov 23, 2012.

    Mike Bullard Posts: 564

    And how many people coulda got a little nosey and slapped her or handled bi'ness when they saw it due?
    That was rude but there it is there on the turning away.

  • Bren ONeal posted at 10:25 pm on Fri, Nov 23, 2012.

    Bren ONeal Posts: 1

    My deepest sympathy to both families I know your lives have been changed forever. The truth is the toxic level of Methadone in Penny Miles system alone was enough to kill her. Any mixture of one of the other drugs in combination with the Methadone certainly was fatal that helped lead to her death. Anyone who is on Methadone that makes the choice to get behind the wheel and drive is an accident waiting to happen. Thousands continue to die yearly Of Methadone whether prescribed by a physician, Methadone Clinic or by diversion. How many people have to die ?

  • Charles Dudley Jr posted at 1:44 pm on Fri, Nov 23, 2012.

    Charles Dudley Jr Posts: 1281

    Just wow on all of those drugs in her system. [scared]