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West Ventura County Focus

VENTURA : Defense in Crash Case Cites Health Problem

October 08, 1994|BARBARA MURPHY

A Camarillo businessman crashed into eight cars and injured two people while driving drunk, but maintains he is innocent of any crime because he was unconscious due to a combination of medical problems, his attorney told jurors Friday.

Myron George Harrison, 53, is charged in Ventura County Municipal Court with 13 misdemeanors stemming from the March 26 incident, including drunk driving causing injury, hit-and-run, ignoring a police vehicle's lights and sirens, and resisting arrest.

Witnesses estimated Harrison's car reached speeds of 100 m.p.h. as he drove from Santa Paula to downtown Ventura, Deputy Dist. Atty. David Lehr said.

Harrison's conduct is undisputed, but defense attorney Louis Samonsky said his client does not remember what happened because he was experiencing a hypoglycemic blackout that was aggravated by a hypothyroid condition and a 25-year-old bout with encephalitis.

"Unconscious, under the law, means not voluntarily doing what you're charged with doing," Samonsky said in his opening statement. "Why did he drive and why did he cause all of these crashes? Because he was unconscious and did not do one single criminal act in a voluntary fashion."

Harrison left Santa Paula about 7:40 p.m. and sped down California 126. While on the highway, Harrison knocked two cars off the road, then made a U-turn through oleander bushes in the center divider and struck two more cars, Lehr said. Police arrested him in downtown Ventura, where he sideswiped four more cars, the prosecutor said.

Two of the drivers hit by Harrison were injured, Lehr said.

Harrison's blood-alcohol level 1 1/2 hours later was 0.19%, which is more than twice the legal limit for driving, the prosecutor said. Samonsky said Harrison had seven mixed drinks that day but did no driving until he was in the blackout stage.

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