Bonnie Bohacek had around six drugs in her system after an Oct. 15 fatal car crash on Route 5S, including morphine and hydrocodone, Montgomery County prosecutor Kelli P. McCoski told the jury Tuesday as Bohacek’s trial began in Montgomery County Court.
“Those drugs in that combination impair the ability to drive,” McCoski told the jury in her opening statement, while noting that at least two of the drugs detected were administered by first-responders at the accident scene.
Bohacek, a 45-year-old Fort Hunter resident, is accused of driving across the center line as she was eastbound at about 6:30 that morning, causing a head-on crash with the vehicle of the victim, 60-year-old Anacleto Tambasco of Amsterdam.
There were no witnesses to the town of Florida accident, but the next driver behind Bohacek found Tambasco already dead and Bohacek unconscious, McCoski said.
She said Bohacek drove so far into the westbound lane that the accident occurred near the fog line, where Tambasco was attempting to avoid the collision.
“He was trying to get his car off that road,” said McCoski.
Defense attorney Robert Abdella of Gloversville asked for a mistrial when McCoski told the jury she would present a state police witness who would testify about the number of prescriptions Bohacek was filling in the months leading up to the accident.
After a conference at the bench that moved into Judge Felix Catena’s chambers, the judge denied the mistrial motion but then ordered McCoski’s statement stricken from the record and instructed the jury to disregard the information.
Abdella said McCoski’s statement about “the vast quantity” of prescription drugs obtained by Bohacek was improper and irrelevant since the information did not pertain to the day of the crash.
McCoski said it was relevant to show Bohacek was “filling prescriptions at a rapid rate.”
Abdella reminded the jury the medications were legally prescribed for a chronic back problem and their ingestion did not impair his client’s ability to drive.
“Assumptions are very dangerous,” Abdella told the jury, presenting Bohacek as “a hard-working, law-abiding nurse ... a mother, a grandmother and a wife.”
He said Bohacek had worked a late shift at Ellis Hospital the day before the crash and was starting her shift that day at 7 a.m.
The weather on Oct. 15, he said, was “dark, rainy, dreary.” The local medical flight service would not fly that day, he said. He asked the jury to consider the difference between a car accident and a criminal act.
He said Bohacek was prescribed morphine sulfate, a milder form of the painkiller.
He also said Bohacek, who came to court with a walker, was in a coma for several days following the accident and has no recollection of it.
McCoski told the jury that a bag of prescription drugs was found in Bohacek’s car and determined to belong to Bohacek’s son.
Abdella said the son had used the vehicle the previous night when he picked his mother up at the hospital. He said a police official returned the drugs to the son after the crash and authorities never inspected the containers to identify their contents.
Abdella termed the mention of the son’s medication “the ultimate red herring.”
Bohacek was indicted in March on charges of second-degree manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, second-degree assault, criminally negligent homicide, vehicular assault, driving while ability impaired by drugs and reckless driving.