Trash truck driver fights DUI charge

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Dana Naylor, who drove the Times Disposal garbage truck hit by an Amtrak train a year ago, says he wasn’t impaired at the time of the crash. Photo by Jack Looney Dana Naylor, who drove the Times Disposal garbage truck hit by an Amtrak train a year ago, says he wasn’t impaired at the time of the crash. Photo by Jack Looney

First he was hit by a train. Now his attorney is attempting to prove that he was also hit with a bogus DUI charge.

Dana Naylor, the driver of the garbage truck that was hit by an Amtrak train in Crozet last year, was in court January 22 to dispute evidence being used against him. The event made national headlines because the train was chartered by Republican congressmen en route to a retreat at The Greenbrier.

Naylor is charged with involuntary manslaughter and DUI maiming in the accident that left Christopher Foley dead, and Dennis Eddy seriously injured.

The prosecution is alleging that Naylor was under the influence of marijuana when he steered around the downed gates and attempted to drive the Times Disposal truck across the tracks before the train barreled into it.

Naylor tested positive for THC after the accident, but attorney William Tanner is arguing what many marijuana studies have already suggested—that THC levels aren’t an indication of impairment, and that the active ingredient in marijuana can stay in one’s system for a couple months after smoking it. He asked that the toxicology report be thrown out.

However, it’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci’s position that the presence of THC in Naylor’s blood at the time of the crash, coupled with statements he made afterward about trying to beat the train, prove that he was impaired.

The defense is also requesting a special hearing, called a Frank’s hearing, where Tanner would challenge the credibility of the police officer who obtained the search warrant needed to collect blood and urine samples. According to Tanner, the officer who was with Naylor in the hospital after the crash was only able to get the warrant by saying he smelled alcohol—and that Naylor’s wife agreed.

But Naylor’s wife contends she never said the smell was alcohol and in fact suggested that it was coming from the hospital, according to the attorney. And the test detected no alcohol in the driver’s blood.

Tracci says the cop never explicitly said Naylor’s wife agreed that the odor was alcohol, and for such a hearing to be granted, the prosecutor says there must be allegations of deliberate falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth.

Judge Cheryl Higgins ruled not to throw out the toxicology report, and said she needed time to consider granting a Frank’s hearing. She’s scheduled to give her decision January 30.

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