Woman charged in crash that killed her teen cousin tested positive for THC

Published: Jan. 5, 2018 at 10:20 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2018 at 9:43 PM EST
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Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

CHARLESTOWN, IN (WAVE) - An Indiana woman has been charged with a felony months after a crash that killed her 13-year-old cousin.

Jordan Abbott, 20, was charged with one count of causing death in a motor vehicle accident with a schedule one controlled substance in her blood.

Police said toxicology reports indicated THC, an active ingredient in marijuana, was in her blood.

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The crash happened April 29, 2017 at Cooper's Corner gas station in Charlestown. Abbott was driving a car that her friend and also her cousin, Hailey Abbott, 13, was riding in.

Indictment documents show Abbott was attempting to overtake a car in front of her when she realized that she didn't have enough space to do so. She slowed back down, hit a big puddle of water and lost control of her vehicle.

The entire crash was captured on surveillance video.

The car fishtailed and ended up hitting gas pumps and the store at Cooper's Corner gas station.

Reports show Hailey was ejected from the vehicle and was transported to University Hospital. She died on the way.

"It just adds to the tragic nature of the situation, the fact that they were related family members," Clark County prosecutor Jeremy Mull said. "I can tell you that having spoken to at least one of the family members of the victim, that it has been very difficult for them in the aftermath of this and that they have had a very, difficult, difficult time in the death of this child."

Abbott and her friend were also taken to the hospital for injuries they suffered in the crash. Officers took a blood sample from Abbott after she was treated.

That toxicology report came back in December. It shows Abbott had THC in her blood stream. In the state of Indiana, that ingredient is what makes the difference between a civil accident case and a felony.

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Hailey was sitting in the backseat of the car that Jordan was driving. However, this isn't a story about a reckless driving case. With THC found in Jordan's system, it's a story about a level five felony.

"To be guilty of that you simply have to have the substance in your blood at the time you cause serious injury or death," Mull explained. "There's no requirement to prove actual intoxication or impairment from that drug at the trial."

That means it doesn't matter if Jordan had smoked pot weeks before the crash. If it's in her system at the time of the crash, her case is reviewed under a zero tolerance policy.

According to defense attorney Larry Wilder, that is one of the biggest reasons the case is a difficult one.

"No dope smoking in Indiana," Wilder said. "If you're going to smoke dope, you're going to get in trouble if you are driving a vehicle period."

However, the law doesn't specifically target marijuana.

It happens that marijuana falls under the category of Schedule I or II controlled substance along with cocaine, heroin and meth. Wilder said he personally thinks the statute is outdated.

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"It's a throwback to a different era and time in this country and Indiana's statutes have not caught up," he said.

Mull said this tragedy should serve as a reminder that in 2018, marijuana still has deeper repercussions in Indiana.

"If you do smoke marijuana and do cause an auto accident that results in serious bodily injury or death you could get charged with a serious felony," Mull said.

With several states recently legalizing recreational marijuana, both Wilder and Mull said they wouldn't be surprised if they saw more of these cases come across their desks.

Abbott was arrested on January 17 in Louisville. She waived extradition back to Clark County.

If convicted, she could face up to six years in prison.

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