Drumright man waives jury trial in death of Cushing body shop owner

By Patti Weaver

(Stillwater, Okla.) — A Drumright man has waived his right to a jury trial on a first-degree manslaughter charge in the accidental death of Cushing body shop owner Curtis Sams, who operated a leaf blower outside his business at 224 E. Main Street when he was fatally struck by a pickup truck at 8:23 a.m. on September 28, 2020.

Payne County Court Clerk Lori Allen said Monday that the driver, Christopher Clint Collier, 38, is scheduled to stand trial without a jury before District Judge Phillip Corley at 9 a.m. on August 2. Collier remains free on a $75,000 bond.

Collier had four prescription drugs in his bloodstream – the short-acting tranquilizer Xanax, a sedative used as a sleeping pill called Ambien, the muscle relaxant Flexeril and the antidepressant Prozac, Cushing Police Detective Jerrod Livergood testified during from a preliminary hearing last summer.

First-degree manslaughter is punishable by at least four years in prison if convicted, according to court records. The charge was filed in the alternative as being either caused by driving under the influence of drugs or driving left of center.

At the preliminary hearing, Cushing Police Officer Kurt McKean testified when he arrived at the scene: “Mr. Collier became emotional. He told me that he was not drunk and that he would take the (blood) test.

When Collier was questioned at the police department, “Mr. Collier kept telling me that he tried to stop the truck. He drove to Ripley, dropped his kid off at school, and he was driving to work,” Cushing Police Sgt. said when the accident happened. Jack Ford testified.

When asked if he had fallen asleep, Collier said he didn’t know. He saw a pedestrian whom he thought was carrying a can of gasoline. He said he went to bed at 11:30 p.m. or midnight. He took Ambien before going to bed. He told me he hadn’t drunk anything. He was supposed to be at work at 8 a.m.,” and was running behind, Cushing Police Sgt.

The Cushing Police Detective testified at the preliminary hearing that the victim died at the scene.

“The vehicle was one block to the east. The defendant was heading east on Main Street, a four-lane highway. It crossed both westbound lanes and hit the pedestrian and street signs, then got back on the road and came to a stop on the north sidewalk,” the detective said.

The detective testified that two days later he called Collier: “I wanted to tell him that I got a search warrant on his truck to get the contents of the black box. I seized two phones, a pill box, an empty whiskey bottle and six sealed rum bottles.

“He said he didn’t remember much. He said he didn’t drink. He had been to the doctor a week before. He woke up and didn’t know where he was. He said he hadn’t driven since the doctor’s visit – until today. He said he didn’t know what happened.

Collier had a prescription for all four drugs that were in his system, according to a blood test after the crash, the detective said. “He had no alcohol in his blood. The phones were not in use at the time of the accident. The black box indicated speed was not a factor,” the detective said.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Matt Ledbetter testified, “The crash data in the airbag module for his 2003 3/4 ton Chevy was more limited than what we are recording now. I don’t believe the airbags deployed in this case.

“The pedestrian was struck before data recorded the sidewalk strike at 38mph. I think he was trying to brake and press the accelerator pedal”, testified the soldier – adding “there was no braking”.

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