Liz Kellar

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December 27, 2013
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Nevada City man still critical after head-on crash

A Nevada City man who was flown to a Roseville hospital Thursday morning after crashing his SUV head-on into a concrete barrier — and being partially ejected through the windshield — is still in critical condition, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

“There has been no improvement,” CHP Officer Greg Tassone said Friday afternoon. “Thankfully, he’s not any worse.”

David William Connell, 52, was driving a Ford Expedition eastbound on Highway 20/49 through Nevada City at approximately 5:05 a.m. with Carol Connell, also 52, in the front passenger seat. Connell, who was not wearing a seatbelt, drifted completely out of his lane before the Broad Street off-ramp, collapsing the metal collision-attenuator and then colliding head-on into the concrete abutment separating the off-ramp from the main portion of the freeway.

Connell sustained major head trauma, Tassone said, and was taken to Sutter Roseville Medical Center.

Connell is suspected of having been under the influence of medications and/or dangerous drugs at the time of the collision and has been charged for felony DUI; he reportedly had been driving on an expired license.

“We’re still fleshing out our investigation, but we’re confident in our felony DUI filing,” Tassone said, adding that investigators are looking into factors such as medical conditions.

An impairment that leads to a criminal charge of driving under the influence can be caused by prescription medications, Tassone explained.

“Certain medications can be prescribed with certain conditions,” he said.

“For example, painkillers can be prescribed but you’re not allowed to do certain things, like drive or operate heavy machinery. It has to be that you took a substance with the knowledge that you can’t take it in combination with driving.”

Tassone added that the charge rises to a felony if the driver causes an accident involving injuries.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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The Union Updated Jan 2, 2014 11:12AM Published Dec 27, 2013 10:14PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.