By Patti Weaver

 

  (Stillwater, Okla.) — A Drumright man has waived his right to a jury trial on a first-degree manslaughter charge in the accidental death of Cushing body shop owner Curtis Sams, who was operating a leaf blower in front of his business at 224 E. Main Street when he was fatally struck by a pickup truck at 8:23 am on Sept. 28, 2020.
    Payne County Court Clerk Lori Allen said Monday that the driver, Christopher Clint Collier, 38, has been scheduled for a non-jury trial before District Judge Phillip Corley at 9 am on Aug. 2. Collier remains free on $75,000 bail.
    Collier had four prescription medications in his blood — the short-acting tranquilizer Xanax, a sedative used as a sleep aid called Ambien, the muscle relaxer Flexeril, and the anti-depressant Prozac, Cushing Police Detective Jerrod Livergood testified in a preliminary hearing last summer.
    First-degree manslaughter carries a penalty of not less than four years in prison on conviction, court records show. The charge was filed in the alternative as either caused by driving under the influence of drugs or by driving left of center.
    At the preliminary hearing, Cushing Police Officer Kurt McKean testified when he arrived at the scene, “Mr. Collier became emotional. He advised me he was not intoxicated and would take the (blood) test.
    When Collier was interviewed at the police department, “Mr. Collier kept telling me he tried to stop the truck. He drove to Ripley, left his child off at school and he was driving to work,” when the crash occurred, Cushing Police Sgt. Jack Ford testified.
    Asked if he fell asleep, Collier, “said he didn’t know. He saw a pedestrian he thought was carrying a gas can. He said he went to bed at 11:30 pm or midnight. He took Ambien before he went to bed. He told me he hadn’t had anything to drink. He had to be at work at 8 am,” and was running behind, the Cushing police sergeant testified.
    The Cushing police detective testified in the preliminary hearing that the victim was dead at the scene.
    “The vehicle was a block away to the east. The defendant was eastbound on Main Street, a four-lane highway. He crossed both westbound lanes and struck the pedestrian and street signs, then traveled back on the road and stopped on the north curb,” the detective testified.
    The detective testified that two days later, he called Collier: “I wanted to tell him I obtained a search warrant on his truck to get the content of the black box. I seized two phones, a pill container, an empty bottle of whiskey and six sealed bottles of rum.
    “He said he didn’t remember much of anything. He said he was not drinking. He’d been to the doctor a week before this. He’d wake up and not know where he was. He said he hadn’t driven since the doctor’s visit — until that day. He said he didn’t know what happened.”
    Collier had a prescription for the four drugs that were in his system, according to a blood test after the crash, the detective testified. “He had no alcohol in his blood. The phones were not in use at the time of the accident. The black box indicated speed wasn’t a factor,” the detective testified.
    Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Matt Ledbetter testified, “The crash data in the air bag module for his 2003 Chevy 3/4 ton was more limited than what we record now. I don’t believe the air bags had deployed in this case.
    “The pedestrian was struck before the data recorded the curb strike at 38 mph. I believe he was trying to hit the brake and hit the pedal,” of the accelerator, the trooper testified — adding “there was zero braking.”