|For Immediate Release
Case # 08ZF0040
November 2, 2009
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
DRIVER UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF NARCOTICS CONVICTED OF KILLING TEEN ON BIKE WHILE SENDING TEXT MESSAGES
SANTA ANA – A text messaging driver under the influence of narcotics was convicted today of killing a 14-year-old boy on a bike by crashing into the victim. Jeffrey Francis Woods, 22, Huntington Beach, was found guilty by a jury of one felony count of vehicular manslaughter by unlawful act with gross negligence while intoxicated. The defendant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison at his sentencing Dec. 11, 2009, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-39, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Shortly after 2:00 p.m. on Aug. 29, 2007, Woods was driving erratically and following too close to other vehicles eastbound on Indianapolis Avenue in Huntington Beach. The defendant was under the influence of controlled substances, Vicodin and Xanax, and was sending text messages and distracted while driving. Woods was sending text messages to friends attempting to illegally obtain Vicodin and Xanax. The last text he sent was one minute before the crash and read, “Need bars?” “Bars” is a street term for Xanax.
Woods suddenly swerved in his pick-up truck over several lanes into oncoming traffic and crossed into the bike lane on the wrong side of the road, crashing into 14-year-old Daniel Oates. The victim, who was riding his bicycle, was thrown over 200 feet and landed in a traffic lane. The defendant then crashed into a palm tree, drove through a wall, and came to a stop in the backyard of a nearby home.
Oates, who was wearing a helmet when Woods crashed into him, died from multiple blunt force injuries caused by the impact of the crash. The victim had been riding his bicycle with his best friend to pick up their class schedules in anticipation of the upcoming school year. Oates, who was nicknamed “Oatie,” was a junior lifeguard.
The defense claimed during trial that Woods suffered a seizure while driving and was unconscious at the time of the crash.
Deputy District Attorney Susan Price of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.