Brian and Erin and their unborn baby girl died because of drug impaired driving.
Today, Brian’s Dad, Ed Wood, is the nation’s leading advocate for victims of drugged drivers.
September 3 2010, Brian and Erin Wood were on a trip to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary. Being traditionalists, they chose to await the birth of their first child the following month to learn whether they were having a son or a daughter.
Jordyn Weichert was driving an SUV in the opposing lane. She felt a need to change her sweater while driving, so she turned the wheel over to her passenger Samantha Bowling. The SUV was airborne and upside down when it went through Brian’s windshield killing him instantly. The two men in the back seat of the SUV were also killed. Erin and the two women driving the SUV were injured, but survived.
Brian never knew that he was the father of the baby girl he wanted so badly.
As the SUV bounced down the highway, it disgorged clothing, un-belted passengers, heroin, methamphetamine, a drug weighing scale, syringes, cooking foil, smoking pipes, a pistol and drug packaging supplies. A local sheriff deputy said the SUV occupants constituted one-half of the drug trade in the north end of Whidbey Island, Washington.
Lab tests confirmed the SUV drivers had been using marijuana and methamphetamine, and Weichert was also using heroin. Both women were charged with vehicular homicide and vehicular assault due to driving under the influence of drugs.
Brian’s father Ed attended each day of the jury trial. He learned that laws that provide some sense of justice to victims of drunk driving don’t work well for victims of drugged driving. The women were found guilty of vehicular homicide due to driving with disregard for the safety of others, not due to DUID. This, in spite of the judge’s comments during sentencing, “Drugs were a factor in this case. The fact that the defendants ingested drugs has increased the risk that they would engage in this reckless behavior that resulted in these deaths or injuries.”
Weichert and Bowling served 5 and 3 years respectively for their crime. The court directed them to reimburse part of the cost of part of Brian’s burial expense. They began restitution payments after their release from prison, but when they ceased making payments, the state made only feeble and unsuccessful attempts to enforce the court ruling. So much for the notion of restorative justice in wrongful death cases.
Brian’s father founded DUID Victim Voices (www.duidvictimvoices.org) to represent the interest of victims of DUID, providing fact-based research and education with a victim perspective to decision makers and to the general public. He has published numerous peer-reviewed papers and book chapters on drugged driving. He testified in court and before legislative committees, throughout the US and Canada. He testified against the bill that gave Colorado the distinction of having the weakest DUID law in the nation. He wrote the Colorado law that requires the state to collect and publish data on the causes and legal consequences of driving under the influence.