AUSTIN -- A former pediatric nurse admitted she took prescription drugs just hours before she crashed her car into a building, killing a man and seriously injuring a woman. Linda Woodman is on trial this week for manslaughter and aggravated assault for the February 2012 crash.
Prosecutors say Woodman knew not to drive while on morphine and Percoset. Her defense attorneys argue the hospital holds part of the blame, since they released her in a cab without any supervision. The case brings to light the issue of prescription medication and the effects they can have.
Drugclass.org Executive Director Ruby Cortez said students in his class might be charged with a drug offense or driving while intoxicated. Many times, people take the class because of prescription medication.
"I'm seeing it all the time," he said.
Cortez said the effects can be just as dangerous.
"It's the same as if you were drinking and driving or using drugs like speed or crack or cocaine," he said.
The dangers of prescription medication are at the root of Linda Woodman's case. Police said in February 2012, she drove recklessly on Guadalupe Street, then crashed her SUV into the Wheatsville Co-op grocery store near 31st Street.
Dik van Meerten died on the scene and Sarah Lee Parker went to the hospital with serious injuries. Woodman had been in the hospital the day before for a seizure and admitted she took Morphine and Percocet hours before the crash.
"The two of them together are a potent combination," said Family Physician Dr. Lamia Kadir.
Dr. Kadir said both drugs have a long list of side effects including nausea, dizziness and hyperventilation.
"These medications have, are causing more accidents on our roads than drunk driving. So this is a huge issue," she said.
One National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that in 2009, 18 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one illicit, prescription or over-the-counter drug.
"These medications are not to be dispensed to anyone who is operating heavy machinery and ideally not to anyone who's driving," she said.
While prosecutors told the jury Woodman knew that. Defense attorneys argued the Seton hospital she visited holds part of the blame.
Cases like this are why Cortez reminds his students to use caution with any substance or medication.
"It's not worth the risk," he said.
Thursday the state called hospital staff and Van Meerten's son, who told the jury about the night his father died. Then the defense began calling their first witnesses, including an investigator who responded to the scene that night. They pointed out Woodman still wore her hospital bracelet when they arrived.