Butler County's great daily newspaper

Driver in fatal crash had drugs, alcohol in his body

August 6, 2014 News Extra

Advertisement | Advertise Here

A man with a history of suicidal tendencies was under the influence of alcohol and drugs when he may have purposely caused a head-on crash that killed himself and a mother of three on a Butler County road in June, authorities said.

Toxicology reports showed 38-year-old Michael H. Reid of Butler Township was over the legal limit for alcohol and he had an antidepressant and synthetic codeine in his body when he died.

“He was obviously impaired,” state police Lt. Eric Hermick said of Reid.

Police say Reid was speeding — possibly traveling as much as 100 mph — on Route 68 in Forward Township about 11:20 p.m. June 18 when he drove into the oncoming lane and hit a Jeep Cherokee driven by Hannah Swigart.

Reid and Swigart, 36, of Butler, who had never crossed paths in their lives, both died instantly.

Police recently received the results of toxicology testing that revealed Reid’s blood-alcohol was 0.098 percent. A level of 0.08 percent is considered intoxicated under law.

Reid’s blood also tested positive for paroxetine, a central nervous system medication that is marketed as Paxil. It is used to treat such conditions as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hermick said he did not know if Reid had a prescription for Paxil. However, the toxicology report indicated that he had an abnormally high level of the drug.

“A normal dose is 86 nanograms per milliliter” Hermick said. “(Reid) had 110 nanograms.”

According to WebMD website, the drug can make users dizzy or drowsy or cause blurred vision.

Additionally, Reid had dextromethorphan, or DXM, in his system, police said. DXM is considered a synthetic of codeine, and is used in hundreds of over-the-counter medications including cough syrup.

In Pennsylvania, DXM is classified as a “potential driver impairing” drug.

Only minutes before the deadly wreck, investigators said, Reid’s ex-girlfriend called 911 to report that he had violated a protection at her Butler Township home.

He had left by the time an officer arrived, but he called his girlfriend who handed the phone to the officer so he could speak to Reid.

“He said, ‘I’m not coming up to talk to you. You’ll read about me in the paper tomorrow,’” said Butler Township Police Chief John Hays.

Butler County Court records show Reid had attempted suicide before.

Based on what Reid told police the night of the wreck and his history of suicide attempts, Hermick said he believes the crash was likely intentional.

“But the coroner can’t say that beyond a reasonable doubt,” Hermick said.

Share this article: