Joshua Wittig sentenced to 10 years for heavily drugged crash that killed John Page Hines

Thumbnail image for joshua wittig mug shot cropped.JPG
Joshua Wittig.
Opponents of a Westminster Police drug-enforcement checkpoint note correctly that alcohol-related crashes like Department of Corrections officer Jason Ulrich's are far more prevalent those those involving narcotics. But the latter do happen, as shown by the case of Joshua Wittig, just sentenced to ten years in an incident that initially was said to be about medical marijuana but turned out to involve a wide range of self-medication.

As we reported at the time of Wittig's vehicular homicide conviction in May, the now-nineteen-year-old was driving an SUV in Thornton last October when he collided head-on with John Page Hines, a motorcyclist declared dead at the scene.

Afterward, North Metro Drug Task Force Commander Jerry Peters told us: "It's our understanding that the suspect in the case is a self-proclaimed medical marijuana patient who didn't fill out all the paperwork -- that he got a doctor's recommendation from a Boulder clinic for back pain and then took a partially filled-out application to a dispensary.

"We're trying to see if there's a loophole in the system that hasn't been recognized where people are trying to buy marijuana illegally, or if this is somebody who's in the system who hasn't been verified yet," Peters added. "We're still in the investigative stages, but we know the medical use of marijuana is involved in the case."

In the end, though, the question of how Wittig obtained marijuana paled in comparison to the cocktail of other substances in his system at the time of the crash. Tests showed he was under the influence of Xanax, Valium and Percocet in addition to marijuana.

So excessive was this consumption that Wittig was reportedly sentenced last week to ten years and six months for vehicular homicide, plus a concurrent six-month jolt for reckless vehicular homicide -- punishment toward the upper end of the four-to-twelve-year option authorized by conviction guidelines.

The sentence indicates that judges take driving on drugs very seriously -- as does the Westminster Police Department.

More from our Comment of the Day archive: "Reader: Show compassion for Wittig, Hines families in medical-marijuana-related crash."

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Frank H. Hines
Frank H. Hines

On July 27, 2011 at the Adams County Court House you, JW's family, stood in the middle of the hallway  like street thugs and made us walk around you. That is when I realized you had no respect for anything or anybody. I am through with all of this now.      Frank H. Hines

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Michael, your use of the prohibitionist-hijacked word "narcotics" and your extensive re-quote of Pig Peters' falsehoods seem calculated to provoke patients as opposed to edify.  A narcotic is drug which induces sleep -- the misuse of the term by prohibitionist police to mean "illicit" conflates drugs' illegality with their (different) effects.  Wittig's combination of three prescribed, depressant medications explains his impairment and demonstrates his culpability.  There (still) is not an iota of support in the account of Wittig's crime for the notion that the use of cannabis poses a threat to motorists, so why would a journalist quote the head of the criminal gang known as the "North Metro Drug Task Force", unless "he only does it to annoy, because he knows it teases"?

Please explain your references to the Westminster Police Department and its illegal detention of motorists on I-25 -- Joshua Wittig committing vehicular homicide in Thornton has no obvious connection with the Westminster police stopping motorists without cause and outside of their jurisdiction -- or will they now be operating in Thornton?

Jake Browne
Jake Browne

CDOT's new campaign touts Drug Recognition Experts can tell if you're driving under the influence of cannabis. Why is CDOT so focused on medical marijuana? Read our blog here:

Matt in Boulder
Matt in Boulder

Let me get this straight.  Selling marijuana (which has never killed anyone) within 1000 feet of a school or public housing carries 8 - 24 year sentencing guidelines.  http://www.1stmarijuanagrowers...

KILLING someone with your car carries 4 - 12 years.  I challenge anyone to provide a logical explanation for that disparity in sentencing.  No way in hell does it make sense to punish a "crime" that could not possibly kill a person 2x as harshly as a real crime that actually did kill a person.


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