August 3rd, 2013 at 12:16 pm
A mother and her son were killed in 2011 in a grisly driving while intoxicated accident on the Northwest side of Chicago. The responsible driver, Richard Strum, 37, was this month sentenced to 15 years in prison in connection with the deaths. Also involved in the crash were the woman, Claudia Delia’s, stepson, Zack Marvin, “a high school sophomore whose vision and hearing were permanently damaged on the left side of his head, forcing him to give up his dream of becoming a Marine,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Also in the car were Delia’s son Hauk Marvin, 3, whose leg was broken, and 16-year-old family friend Chris Dias, who suffered a broken pelvis. According to the Tribune, “the group had been headed for an end-of-summer camping trip in Wisconsin.”
Strum, according to the Tribune, was a Chicago resident but had not had a valid license since 2003. Despite this, he continued to “drive and rack up tickets.” It wasn’t booze that was found in his system, however—Strum received the heavy-handed sentence after “a urine test found cannabis in Strum’s system,” despite the fact that “his attorney argued that the amount of cannabis detected was minuscule and could have come from secondhand smoke,” according to the Tribune. Jurors apparently didn’t see this as reasonable cause that he wasn’t totally at fault, and “convicted him on multiple counts of aggravated DUI and reckless homicide.” In an apology that Strum read in court this month from the defense table, he stuck to his story that he wasn’t actually under the influence of anything at the time of the accident. The Tribune reports that Strum told the jury that “I was driving too fast that day. It was my stupidity that caused the accident, not the use of booze or drugs.”
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “drugged driving always have lagged behind alcohol-related driving legislation, in part because of limitation in the current technology for determining drug levels and resulting impairment.” It’s likely that stricter drugged driving laws will continue to be passed as technology makes testing for drugged driving on site easier.