Driver who hit Hurley tests positive for drug

December 15, 1993|By New York Times News Service

SACRAMENTO, CALIF — SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The 37-year-old house painter who drove the car that seriously injured Sacramento Kings rookie Bobby Hurley in an accident Sunday night has tested positive for an unspecified amount of amphetamine, an official in the Sacramento Police Department said yesterday.

Tests administered at a hospital after the collision showed traces of the drug in the bloodstream of the driver, Daniel Wieland.

The police, alerted to the discovery, issued a search warrant yesterday morning to obtain the test sample and then retested the blood to measure the precise amounts of the drug. They could soon file a felony charge of driving under the influence against Wieland.

"The crime lab tests will give us a specific amount, so we can get a DUI to stick," said the police official, who requested anonymity.

The official said Wieland's positive test could have been the result of over-the-counter drugs such as diet or cold pills, but the department was also investigating the possibility he had used methamphetamine, or speed. Amphetamines are stimulants that are legal for some uses, notably the treatment of narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder.

While Hurley remained in intensive care yesterday afternoon with a severe pulmonary injury and seemed to be improving, according to doctors, Wieland was in another room of the University of California-Davis Medical Center denying he had used drugs before the accident.

"Drugs? Amphetamines? No, no, no," said Wieland, who suffered only a broken bone in his leg.

Wieland said he had not taken cold or diet pills, and he refuted police statements that the headlights of his 1970 Buick station wagon were malfunctioning before the accident.

"Who said that?" he asked yesterday in a telephone interview.

"I had my headlights on. Why would I be driving in the dark without headlights? Doesn't make sense; it was dark out there."

An eyewitness to the accident yesterday supported the police statements that Wieland's headlights were not on and that he had been driving erratically before the crash.

Mike Batham, a 46-year-old engineer from Yuba City, Calif., made the left turn onto El Centro Road just before Hurley and said of Wieland yesterday: "He was partly in my lane, about a foot to a foot and a half in my lane. And so I swerved over a little to avoid him. About the same time, I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw the sparks."

Hurley's condition, meanwhile, was getting better.

Dr. F. William Blaisdell, the surgeon who reattached Hurley's windpipe to his lung, said the 22-year-old guard "is much improved. The bruises on his lungs are healing, and his lungs are clearing. He's getting rid of a lot of extra fluids."

Hurley's lungs could still become infected, and doctors warn Hurley will not be free to leave intensive care for another two days or so.

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