ST. CHARLES COUNTY — The pickup truck driver who authorities say careened into oncoming traffic on Highway 40, killing four people on Valentine’s Day, admitted to police that he had smoked marijuana the night before, court records show.
The driver acknowledged the drug use to police as he lay in a hospital bed Saturday, a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper said in court records. The driver has not been charged in connection with the crash near Lake Saint Louis. The wreck occurred while he was driving a 2009 Ford F-250 company truck for a concrete business. Police said they found traces of what they suspect is marijuana in his personal vehicle parked outside his work.
Leslie Knight, a spokeswoman for St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar, said Wednesday that a decision on criminal charges is still weeks away. Prosecutors are awaiting toxicology results on the driver and results from the Missouri Highway Patrol’s accident reconstruction investigation, Knight said.
The Post-Dispatch is not identifying the driver because he has not been charged. The 29-year-old man, from the St. Charles area, is currently serving five years’ probation in a 2016 drug possession case in St. Charles. He also has a drunken driving conviction from 2012, police said.
The collision Friday morning killed two women and two girls who were in a minivan struck by the pickup. They were Carrie McCaw, 44, and her daughter Kacey McCaw, 12, and Lesley Prather, 44, and her daughter Rhyan Prather, 12, all of Louisville, Kentucky. They were heading to a weekend volleyball tournament in Kansas City. Lesley Prather was a Louisville firefighter. Firefighters displayed American flags along Interstate 64 near Louisville as the bodies of the four victims were returned home Monday in a procession.
After the crash, the pickup driver was hospitalized at Mercy St. Louis in serious condition. A highway patrol trooper went to the hospital and questioned him about previous drug use. The driver said he had used marijuana the night before the wreck, according to court records.
The patrol applied for a search warrant for the pickup driver’s personal car, a 2012 Mitsubishi Galant, parked outside the offices of Sweetens Concrete Services at 207 East Koenig Street in Wentzville. Looking through the car’s windows, the trooper saw a blunt wrapper and small bits of what investigators suspect was marijuana, the trooper said in court filings. A police dog sniffed the outside of the car and gave indications that it smelled of drugs, authorities said.
Those findings are in a search warrant application filed in St. Charles County Circuit Court.
No one from Sweetens Concrete has returned messages seeking comment since Monday.
Tony Spravale, the maternal grandfather of the pickup driver, said his grandson suffered broken legs in the crash. “He’s not reachable right now,” said Spravale, who has a different last name than his grandson. “He’s doing fair.”
Spravale said he didn’t know if his grandson had a lawyer. Spravale was unhappy that the crash was receiving so much attention in the news and putting his grandson in a negative light. He declined further comment.
The crash occurred about 10:40 a.m. Friday in the westbound lanes of Highway 40 (Interstate 64), west of Highway 364.
The highway patrol said the McCaws and Prathers were heading west in a 2014 Honda Odyssey minivan when the eastbound pickup crossed a grassy median, breached a cable barrier and veered into oncoming traffic. As the pickup started to overturn, it slammed into the minivan and a 2017 Acura MDX in the westbound lanes. The Acura’s driver and passenger weren’t injured, according to the patrol’s report.
Lohmar on Monday said the patrol had “reasonable suspicion” to believe that the pickup driver was impaired, and are awaiting toxicology results to “see what was in his system,” he said.
As part of the driver’s felony drug conviction in St. Charles County, a judge had required that he undergo substance-abuse treatment and provide hair follicles for drug testing every 90 days.
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