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Records: Driver who struck and killed retired Clearwater nurse had drugs in her system

TAMPA — A Tampa driver accused of running a stop sign and killing a retired Clearwater nurse had opiates in her system, a search warrant affidavit released Wednesday shows.

An Infiniti driven by Debra Jean Smith, 55, drove through the four-way stop at Sunset Lane and Hanna Road in Lutz and crashed into an Oldsmobile driven by Helen Teresa Wallace on Dec. 11, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Wallace, 71, who had been a nurse for more than 40 years at Morton Plant Hospital, later died. A passenger was injured.

Deputies arrested Smith, and she faces a charge of DUI manslaughter, two counts of driving under the influence with property damage, five counts of possession of a drug without a prescription and four counts of possession of a controlled substance.

She was still being held Wednesday night on $59,250 bail in the Hillsborough County Jail.

Before the crash, the affidavit shows, authorities received two 911 calls from witnesses warning of an impaired driver.

One reported he saw Smith's car "weaving from one side of the road to the other, striking a mailbox and running a stop sign."

Smith's speech was slow and slurred and she swayed back and forth while standing, the warrant shows.

A breath test revealed no alcohol in her system, but preliminary results from a urine test found "opiates and benzodiazepines," the warrant shows.

A search of her car found, among other items, an empty container for diazepam — the generic name for Valium — and "unknown pink pills," the warrant shows.

Records: Driver who struck and killed retired Clearwater nurse had drugs in her system 12/21/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 10:57pm]
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