Comments Off on Joshua Cartwright, the driver in triple-fatal Amtrak-minivan crash in Kalamazoo, had Methamphetamine in his system

OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, MI – Joshua Cartwright had methamphetamine in his system when he drove a minivan into the path of an Amtrak train last year, killing him and two passengers.

Blood taken from Cartwright tested positive for the stimulant following the Nov. 18 crash, according to toxicology test results that accompanied a Michigan State Police report obtained by the Kalamazoo Gazette under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.-8ca74ed7e3c18d8e

The crash, which occurred at about 4:35 p.m. on South 11th Street near KL Avenue, killed Cartwright and his two passengers, 19-year-old Justin Mastin and 20-year-old Ashley Melson.

“He is acutely intoxicated with methamphetamine and amphetamine at the time of his death,” Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner Joyce DeJong said of Cartwright.

She said that based on the level of meth found in Cartwright’s blood, it is likely that he had used the stimulant within 12 to 24 hours before the crash.joshua-cartwright-cartwright-5919f548269c77de

Kalamazoo County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Carrie Klein said there is no state law that specifically prohibits a person from operating a motor vehicle after ingesting methamphetamine.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, studies have shown meth may impair a person’s driving abilities. Speeding, failing to stop, diminished attention, impatience and high-risk driving have been associated with use of the drug, according to the NHTSA.

According to toxicology tests after the crash, the level of meth in Cartwright’s blood was at 2,682 nanograms per milliliter.

The NHTSA website says that in recreational users of meth, normal blood concentrations are 0.01 milligrams per liter (which converts to 10 nanograms per milliliter) to 2.5 milligrams per liter (2,500 nanograms per milliliter) and levels of above that “will likely be associated with severe, possibly life threatening toxicity.”

Police and witnesses reported that the Dodge minivan driven by Cartwright was headed north on 11th Street and went around vehicles that were stopped for the eastbound Amtrak train near the crossing just south of KL Avenue in Oshtemo Township.

The van, which belonged to Mastin’s mother, was struck broadside. The three occupants were pronounced dead at the scene.

The train was going 82 mph when it struck the minivan and pushed it nearly a mile down the tracks before coming to a stop behind Planned Parenthood on West Michigan Avenue, the state police report said.

Emergency responders found a scene of devastation. Parts from the van were strewn along the tracks while the main portion was stuck to the front of the train.

Cartwright, Mastin and Melson, who were all found inside the van.

James Alvano, a student engineer, was operating the train under Mark Brissette’s supervision, according to Trooper Ryan Coon’s report.

Both men said they sounded the train’s horn as they approached the railroad crossing on 11th Street and saw that all of the signals at the crossing were operational.

As they got closer to the crossing, Alvano and Brissette said they noticed a maroon minivan that passed two stopped vehicles and then maneuvered around the crossing arms that were down.

“As the vehicle crossed over the tracks, they stated the vehicle appeared to come to a stop,” Coon said in his report. “It was at this point the locomotive collided with the vehicle.”

Coon also viewed a video of the collision, which was captured by a camera on the Amtrak train.

Coon said “you can hear the locomotive sound its horn” in the video and Coon was able to see that the crossing arms at the intersection were down and cars had stopped to let the train pass.

“As the locomotive approaches 11th St., you can see the maroon minivan pass the stopped vehicles on the left side of the road and maneuver around the crossing arms,” Coon said. “The van then appears to have some difficulty crossing the railroad tracks and cannot get across before it is struck by the locomotive.”

There were wintry conditions at the time of the Nov. 18 crash, including cold and heavy snow.

Cartwright’s mother, Sharon Cartwright, said Monday that she and her family are still grieving the loss of her son. She described Cartwright as a good man and a good father who would never have intentionally set out to hurt himself or others.

“He was a good dad, he tried to take care of his family,” she said. “My son did not mean to hurt anybody … It was just a freak accident.”

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