Driver in Fatal SR-56 Crash Was Under Influence of Xanax, Marijuana: DA

Timothy Barnette, 18, faces charges of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence

An 18-year-old man who fatally crashed his car into another driver on State Route 56 earlier this month was allegedly driving under the influence of Xanax and marijuana at the time of the crash, a prosecutor revealed on Friday.

Timothy Barnette, charged with gross vehicular manslaughter in the death of Nick Hart, 22, and driving under the influence of a controlled substance, pleaded not guilty in court.

His family filled the courtroom and many were in tears as prosecutors laid out the charges against Barnette stemming from a fatal May 16 crash.

That day, at around 9:45 a.m., Barnette was driving a Land Rover traveling eastbound on SR-56, just east of Black Mountain Road, when his car drifted into the center median and into opposing traffic lanes of westbound SR-56.

At the same time, Nick Hart – a graduate of Poway High School -- was driving a Toyota traveling westbound on SR-56. Barnette’s Land Rover struck Hart’s car, and Hart was killed in the crash.

CHP officials arrested Barnette following the fatal collision on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs. He was then released to a local hospital for immediate care because he suffered major injuries in the crash.

On Thursday, two weeks to the day of the fatal crash, CHP officials confirmed that Barnette had been arrested and booked into jail on charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of a controlled substance causing injury or death.

Barnette appeared in court Friday in a wheelchair, wearing a cast on his wrist. At certain points, he wiped tears from his face. One family member yelled out “I love you, Timmy!” in the courtroom.

Deputy District Attorney Roy Lai said a preliminary toxicology report revealed that Barnette was driving under the influence of Xanax and marijuana.

Lai also revealed that three separate phone calls were made to 911 on May 16 regarding Barnette’s allegedly erratic driving, which including weaving in and out of traffic and running red lights.

Lai said one caller reported Barnette driving on the curb at Ted Williams Parkway, another caller said Barnette was driving recklessly on the I-15 onramp at SR-56 and a third caller reported Barnette allegedly driving erratically on Camino Del Sur.

After that final call was placed, Lai said Barnette got back on SR-56 and moments later, the fatal crash involving Hart occurred.

Barnette’s bail was set at $100,000. Lai argued for a $200,000 bail, saying he’s a danger to society, but a judge denied the increase.

Barnette faces a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars if convicted. He’s scheduled to appear in court again on Jun. 11.

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