Neil Stephany was convicted of second degree murder for killing cyclist Shaun Eagleson while high on heroin.
Read the LA Times post here.
Last October, we wrote about the untimely death of a 30-year-old Newport Beach man named Shaun Eagleson. An avid cyclist, Eagleson was riding his bicycle along East Coast Highway near Crystal Cove – one of his favorite spots, according to his widow Sandra – on the evening of October 14, 2014 when he was struck and killed by a pickup truck driven by 24-year-old Neil Storm Stephany.
Stephany did not stay at the scene of the crash; he was arrested soon after near Fashion Island. He was prosecuted for Shaun Eagleson’s death, and on Monday, October 26, 2015, the jury returned a swift verdict of guilty of second degree murder.
When we wrote last year, we identified Stephany as a “drunk driver”. While he had been convicted of a DUI before, it turns out he was high on heroin at the time he killed Eagleson. At trial, the prosecution presented evidence of Stephany’s erratic driving just prior to his truck striking Eagleson.
Witnesses had called 911 reporting that Stephany:
- dozed off
- swerved across lanes
- stopped at green lights
- ran over a curb
Stephany is set to be sentenced on January 15, 2016. He could receive anywhere from 15 years to life in prison. We will provide an update after Stephany’s sentencing. In the meantime, please be aware that heroin and other drugs have a very profound impact on a person’s ability to drive.
Heroin’s Impact on Driving
Heroin is part of the group of drugs known as “opioids”. Other opioids include morphine, codeine, oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), opium, and methadone.
Opioids are narcotics, also called depressants. They lower neurotransmission levels, which means they slow down the messages traveling between the brain and the body. Symptoms of opioid use include:
- Slower reaction time
- Poor discretion and judgment
- Reduced coordination
- Difficulty focusing or thinking clearly
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and vomiting
As you can see, taking the above symptoms behind the wheel is a recipe for disaster.
There is no safe level of heroin use. Everyone reacts differently to drug use, and most people don’t recognize the full extent of their symptoms or potential impact of their actions while they are high.
The effects of opioids can last up to 24 hours, so if you have taken morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, or heroin, the safest thing is to not drive at all.
Even prescription medications can have an impact on your ability to drive. Read the packet that comes with your medications and listen to your doctor or pharmacist if they tell you not to drive while taking the medication.
Most likely you think you are fine, but you probably aren’t. There is a reason they give these warnings. Please protect yourself and other drivers.