THORNTON, Colo. (CBS4) – A man has been convicted of causing a deadly accident by driving while high an marijuana.

Joshua Wittig, 18, was found guilty of vehicular homicide Thursday for hitting a motorcyclist near the intersection of Thornton Parkway and Steele Street in October. The judge ordered a complaint filed against the doctor who wrote Wittig’s prescription for medical marijuana

The judge found that the Dr. Rita Starritt did not conduct any kind of physical examination or medical evaluation before approving the use of medical marijuana. Wittig went out and bought some before he killed 33-year-old John Hines.

“(He was) an exceptional friend to hundreds of people,” Hines’ sister Cara Hines said. “Literally every person he crossed paths with became better for it.”

An SUV driven by Wittig crossed over the center line. He admitted having used marijuana and other drugs a short time earlier.

“It was one of four or five drugs ingested into his system and I’m sure in combination with the Xanax it surely had an effect on him,” defense attorney Joseph Scheideler said.

Starritt was seen at New Leaf Wellness in Boulder. Elizabeth Plummer is the owner.

“I don’t think that you should be extremely high or medicated and go out and drive a car just as I don’t think you should be extremely drunk and go out a drive a car,” Plummer said.

The jury agreed. Wittig was convicted of vehicular homicide under intoxication. His family members and friends left court in tears.

The defense had claimed Wittig needed the medication for a previous back injury and that the motorcyclist was intoxicated as well.

Wittig faces up to 12 years in prison.

Comments (17)
  1. bri says:

    Jess- actually jess Hines was impaired himself!!! i know the facts the other person may not have but i do and if you knew the fact RIGHT you would also know how high his alcohol level was!!!?????? hmmmm .23……….

  2. Amber Lyn says:

    What about the doctor who gave him the Xanax?! Who is investigating THAT?! He can get pot anywhere in Colorado with or without a prescription. Pot’s not a problem. Pills are problems. Pills cause deadly accidents, not pot. Did the person who gave him the Xanax conduct a medical exam? What medical exam is there for a Xanax prescription anyway? And what one is there for a MMJ recommendation?

  3. Laila says:

    ……??

  4. Patient says:

    I believe that this is unfortunate accident for everyone. With the amount of drugs this guy was taking at such a young age this man was an accident waiting to happen. It is sad that he had to take someone else with him. As far as the doctor losing her lisence I assume you mean the doctor that gave him Xanax? Or the doctor that gave him physical therapy?? Or the person that sold him Valium or percocet??? Oh. You probably mean the Mmj doctor. Why pick on only one ? Why not take all their licenses. And every other dr who has ever had a patient get in an accident while taking a medication. That seems like a good use of time and money

  5. Sister says:

    It’s true. Josh Wittig had levels of multiple drugs in his system well above prescribed dosages, and these were no doubt responsible for his condition having caused the wreck, particularly in combination. The pot he’d smoked was only one small contributing factor. Josh had ingested at least 5 times the prescribed dosage of Xanax alone, and this is the only drug for which he had a valid prescription. Other drugs in his system were Percocet (which is oxycodone with paracetamol/acetaminophen – no prescription), Valium (no prescription), and Cannabis (he had a prescription, but he never sent in the paperwork to register and obtain his card). To be clear, Josh Wittig did not simply cross over the center line. He was driving westbound in the eastbound lanes of traffic when he narrowly missed a head-on collision with a woman, swerved back across the center median/turn lane into his proper westbound lane, then drove back across the center median/turn lane into my brother’s eastbound lane. This was not a case of simply falling asleep at the wheel and drifting a few feet. He was making extreme and abrupt steering actions in a matter of a second or two. The man killed was my brother, John Hines, and he was traveling in the middle of his lane going the speed limit obeying all traffic laws. All this is based on a combination of eye-witness testimony and empirical physical evidence. The issue here is Josh’s refusal to accept PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for his choices including his health, emotional well-being, thoughts, and actions. Drugs don’t cause fatal wrecks, people do. To say the marijuana or the Xanax or the combination of drugs is at fault, is to lay blame inappropriately. Those drugs did not force themselves upon Josh Wittig. He chose to pump his system full of those substances, then he chose to get behind the wheel, and he chose not to accept responsibility for those actions by pleading “Not Guilty”. Josh Wittig is at fault. Not the drugs.

    1. anon says:

      Everyone was at fault here… the motorcyclist was also impaired. Everyone has their time. Stop trolling.

      1. Jess says:

        Really? Really? Thats what you have to say? He was not impaired, before you start spreading lies know your facts. You are probably one of Josh’s friends.. learn from your friends mistakes and don’t blame it on the victim! go play in traffic.. You won’t say who you are because you know you are lying if you were telling the truth you would have stated your name…

  6. ~B says:

    “It was one of 4 or 5 drugs in his system” I think this story needs a reality check, talk about spin… I Love cbs 4, but this was not your best work.

  7. CynicalOptimist says:

    I found this story via the alerts I get from Topix. http://www.topix.com/drug/marijuana/2011/05/man-convicted-of-causing-deadly-accident-by-driving-while-stoned

    It has the same headline but this what it says right after: “A man has been convicted of causing a deadly accident by driving while high an marijuana.” Did someone get paid to write that? It’s not only grammatically incorrect but it’s also extremely misleading.

  8. Tommy Crist says:

    So we keep hearing about medical marijuana dont kill. OOOPS I guess it does. Lets hope this clown gets the needle or life without parole.

  9. HooDatIS? says:

    this is one reason i quit driving i smoke alot of pot, and i dose off get real people
    dont kill others when ur high lay down and sleep it off
    http://ethicalfutures.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/world-star-hip-hop-st-louis-wild-ghetto-club-fight/

  10. denvervet says:

    People need to stop self medicating and face life for what it is. The Dr. should lose her license. I am sure it was the combination of drugs that caused this horrible tradgedy.

    1. Amber Lyn says:

      I think you need to light one up and lighten up. Just because you’re healthy, or okay with being miserable, doesn’t mean the rest of the world couldn’t benefit from some medications. And just because some 18 year old idiot took a bunch of pills and killed someone doesn’t mean “people” need to stop doing anything. Most people function just fine every day on a normal amount on substances.

  11. SR says:

    It was the Xanax…not the marijuana! The headline should read man high on Xanax, why is it that Marijuana is always seen as the drug that ’caused’ the accident? Noone should drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol…prescription drugs or otherwise, that can make you drowsy…Hence the warnings on the bottles!!! Marijuana DID NOT kill this person. How very sad for all parties involved…But Marijuana did not have to be in the Headline!!!

    1. SR says:

      Sorry…it did not mention marijuana by name…but it was implied…

    2. Amber Lyn says:

      no, the headline says he was driving stoned. makes all mmj patients look bad, when really, anyone who reads the article would know Xanax is a more likely cause of an accident… but if you don’t read the article, and let’s face it, many just skim headlines, it says a stoned driver killed a guy.

  12. E says:

    This is an abomination to the system… medical marijuana is at some points taken advantage of but there is a reason its there…. the main reason is money… the second reason is because there are people out there who have benefited from the effects of marijuana and those people have and always will smoke eat whatever it is they do to get that HEALING effect whether It’s legal or not……..

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