Man Convicted for Killing Teen Bicyclist while Impaired by Vicodin and Xanax

A 22-year-old man who struck and killed a teenage bicyclist while under the influence of Vicodin and Xanax two years ago in Huntington Beach, CA, was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter and faces up to 10 years in prison. He will be sentenced on December 11th by Orange County Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly.

Jeffrey Francis Woods, who had been out on bail, was taken into custody immediately after the guilty verdict was read in a Santa Ana courtroom. On August 29th, 2007, Woods was driving eastbound on Indianapolis Avenue when he crossed into oncoming traffic and crashed into 14-year-old Danny Oates, who was riding his bike to school to pick up his class schedule. Woods crashed into Oates with such impact that Oates flew 150 feet and died on impact.

Woods then careened into a palm tree and slammed through a wall into a backyard. Woods’ legs were crushed and nearly had to be amputated. As doctors worked to save Woods’ legs, they drew his blood and found Vicodin and Xanax in his system. Deputy District Attorney Susan Price said Huntington Beach police also determined that Woods had sent a text message to his girlfriend one minute before the crash, and had made phone calls while driving.

Defense attorney Scott Well unsuccessfully argued that Woods had suffered an epileptic seizure when he struck the bicyclist. Well argued that his client had a history of seizures, suffering his first when he fell and fractured his skull at 14 months old.

Price said she was very surprised by how quickly the jury reached its decision, as they read a guilty verdict after less than two hours of deliberation.

Oates’ father said he relished seeing Woods, who lived with his family not far from the Oates residence, led away in handcuffs. "I loved it," Paul Oates said. "He deserves it."

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The Pain of Addiction

Vicodin addiction often starts innocently enough. Most people start taking Vicodin or other pain medications after surgery or an injury. But then they can’t stop. They need more to get the same pain relief. They start doctor shopping to get more pills. And the cycle continues until it takes over their lives.