Police allege driver that caused deadly wreck was drunk

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The probable cause affidavit that Lewisville Police obtained Saturday to arrest and charge James Taylor Sikora with felony intoxication manslaughter with a vehicle provided more detail about why police thought he was drunk.  

Police believe he caused the crash that killed 55-year old Glory Animashaun of Irving on I-35E in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 16. The crash also caused minor injuries for Sikora and another driver.

The affidavit says that an officer sent to the hospital right after the wreck to stay with Sikora had been told by witnesses on the scene that the driver might have been intoxicated.

The officer spoke to Sikora, who was by then in the emergency room with what are described as minor injuries to his face and lip. As they were talking, the affidavit states that the officer began to smell alcohol emitting from Sikora’s breath and/or body. The officer described Sikora’s eyes as red and watery.

According to the affidavit, Sikora told him the last thing he remembered was arriving at a hotel in Dallas at around 2 a.m. after going to the Kung Fu Saloon in Dallas, where he drank until 1:30 a.m. The suspect told police he only had two bottles of beer.

He told police that he did not remember anything leading up to the crash.

Because he was in a hospital bed, the officer was not able to administer the standing and walking parts of the field sobriety test, but he did administer the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which measures involuntary eye movement that frequently occurs when a person is under the influence of alcohol.

The affidavit said that Sikora failed to complete the test and that he was placed under arrest and transported to Lewisville Jail after the hospital was done treating him.

The field sobriety test results attached to the affidavit list a strong alcohol odor and bloodshot, watery eyes.  Sikora failed the HGN test with all six of six intoxication clues present.

He also failed a test reciting the alphabet, but passed a test requiring him to count backwards from 56 to 25.  The results list normal speech, normal balance and walking* and that he was cooperative with police.

In a section of the report to record unusual acts, the officer wrote that Sikora was joking with officers and hospital staff the entire time he was at the hospital. “He continued to act like this even after he found out that the other parties involved were badly injured,” the officer wrote.

The report shows that a blood test was administered, but did not list the results of the test. LPD Captain Jesse Hunter said that the blood tests go to the Texas DPS laboratory for analysis, and that results could take 1-3 months. Given that the crash caused a fatality, Hunter said DPS might take on the shorter end of that timeframe.

Sikora posted $15,000 bond Saturday night. The intoxication manslaughter charge is a second-degree felony, which carries a penalty of two to 20 years in prison.

Update 6/20/2018:

In the comments to this story, a reader asked about why it takes so long to get blood results back and why a breathalyzer was not used.  LPD Captain Jesse Hunter said the department no longer uses breathalyzers.  “We don’t even have the machine anymore,” Hunter said.

Hunter went on to explain that on injury crashes or crashes with fatalities, they always ask for blood from all involved drivers, and have done so even when they used to have the breathalyzer.

Under Texas law, police can obtain a blood sample voluntarily, or by obtaining a warrant.  We’ve sent an inquiry to DPS about why the testing takes so long.

*We have other questions pending, including one about how the suspect was rated with normal balance and walking, even though the standing portions of the field sobriety test were not given.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Speaking from the perspective of a medical professional, many parts of this story don’t make sense logically:

    1. The article states that the officer couldn’t administer the standing or walking aspects of a field sobriety test because the suspect was in a hospital bed, but then the article goes on to say the suspect exhibited normal balance, walking, and speech. If the patient had normal balance and walking then why was a field sobriety test not conducted; patients don’t sober up from alcohol as quickly as this article paints a picture of.

    2. Red and watery eyes can be a sign of alcohol intoxication; however, it can also be associated with smoking marijuana, sleep deprivation, or crying to name a few.

    3. Why was a breathalyzer to assess for BAC not performed; I believe that is also a routine part of the testing when assessing for intoxication.

    4. As a surgeon who works at level one trauma centers we frequently see patients who are brought to the ER / trauma bay after motor vehicle accidents with possible suspicion for alcohol intoxication or drug abuse. The patients routinely have lab work performed to check a blood alcohol level and a urine drug screen. These results are available within a number of hours, so how is it that there is mention of a lag time of 1-3 months?! Additionally there is no mention of if a urine drug screen was performed.

    • I think we’ll learn more when the blood results come back, or if Sikora steps forward to talk.

      I couldn’t say why it takes so long for the blood results. It could be backlog, or there could be extra complications due to its use as evidence rather than medical diagnostics. We’ll ask about the breathalyzer and the balance and walking items on the checklist. One thing to note is that the checklist used does not have a blank for “not observed.” So, “normal” could be the default there, but I’m just speculating.

      • The fact that a blood alcohol lab value which normally takes a few hours all of a sudden is now pending results in 1-3 months, I find that difficult to believe. A medical diagnosis of alcohol intoxication as based on the blood alcohol level can fall under the umbrella of evidence, but even then it is a diagnosis first and evidence second not vice versa.

        When you indicate that the check list does not have an option available for “not observed”, it seems as if the choices are more binary (normal vs abnormal) and as such the reporting in this article should then have a disclaimer to ensure readers are fully informed and not being misled.

        Will continue to stay tuned to this article for replies and further updates.

        • We’ve reached out to a DPS spokesman to see if we can learn more about why it takes so long.

          We’ve also asked Lewisville PD about the checklist. We don’t want to compound any confusion by changing the story just yet, until we find out what it means.

  2. I read somewhere else that the bar mentioned in this story has been investigated by the TABC 3 times over the last 3 and a half years. I realize that the doctors has pointed out some inconsistencies in the article, but you don’t go from drinking two beers to black out drunk (no memory of what happened) in just two beers.

    I wonder how truthful this fella is being about how much he had to drink.

    • We don’t want to get into speculation, but we agree with you that two beers is not enough to cause that level of intoxication. A former police officer we spoke to about this said that it is common for suspects in DWI cases to say they had two drinks.

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