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Prescription drug abuse suspected in multi-vehicle crash

by liz kellar
Staff Writer

A man suspected of being under the influence of a prescription medication cocktail was arrested in connection with a multi-vehicle crash Tuesday.

Grass Valley Police officers responded to multiple calls of a head-on crash in the intersection of Ridge Road and Sierra College Boulevard just before 4:30 p.m., according to dispatch reports. Officers arriving on scene identified four involved vehicles and four drivers associated with the crash, which appeared to have begun in the northbound lanes of Ridge Road, said Capt. Rex Marks.

According to witnesses and physical evidence at the scene, a 2001 Chevrolet pickup driven by Kenneth Day, 52, of Nevada City, had been stopped in the northbound through lane of Ridge Road at the traffic light, heading toward Sierra College Boulevard. The light was in standby mode, flashing red for all directions, Marks said.

A 1997 Subaru driven by Rene Roberson, 49, of Nevada City, was stopped behind Day’s truck in the same lane.

A 2007 Chevrolet pickup driven by Steven Lee Gilger, 51, was reportedly traveling northbound and struck the rear of Roberson’s vehicle, forcing it into Day’s pickup. Gilger’s truck then continued to the right of both vehicles, striking Day’s vehicle at the passenger door.

Gilger then entered the intersection and struck the rear end of a fourth vehicle, a 1999 Toyota driven by Walter Webb II, 62, of Rough and Ready. Gilger’s vehicle continued through the intersection and hit a traffic control pole on the northeast corner of the intersection before stopping.

Day reported no injuries associated with this crash at the scene, Marks said.

Roberson was extricated from her vehicle and transported by air ambulance to Sutter Roseville Medical Center for medical treatment and admittance for injuries sustained from the crash. She was listed in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday afternoon.

Webb was transported by ambulance to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, treated and released.

Gilger was taken to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital for medical treatment and subsequently booked into Wayne Brown Correctional Facility on charges of driving under the influence with bodily injury. He remains in custody in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Alcohol does not appear to be involved, but Gilger admitted to using a number of prescription medications before driving, including Adderall, a stimulant used to treat ADHD, Marks said.

Gilger also admitted to taking other prescription medications as well, he added.

“This is a textbook case of driving under the influence where pharmaceuticals were prescribed and were being abused,” Marks said.

According to Marks, about 33 percent of all arrests for driving under the influence nationwide are related to pharmaceutical use.

The crash remains under investigation at this time, and Marks asked anyone with information regarding this incident to call the Grass Valley Police Department at (530) 477-4600.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229.

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