Teen driver was high when he hit jogger, cops say

Posted: March 22, 2013

A POTTSTOWN high-school student allegedly had smoked pot and was texting when he veered across two lanes and fatally struck a jogger earlier this month, police say, and prosecutors hope to use his high to get a lengthier sentence.

The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office on Thursday announced charges of DUI and vehicular homicide against Justin Jackson, 18. A news release notes that investigators found traces of marijuana in the Pottstown teen's blood shortly after the crash. If both charges lead to convictions, Jackson could face a minimum three-year prison sentence under state law.

"There's no legal amount that you can have in your system," said Montgomery County First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Steele. "He is potentially trading a high-school environment for a state prison."

Shortly after 2 p.m. on March 4, Merlinda Thomas, 40, of Royersford, was jogging on the shoulder of North Lewis Road in Limerick in the direction of traffic when Jackson's Ford Focus hit her from behind and jettisoned her onto a nearby parking lot, investigators said. The car came to a stop only after hitting a utility pole.

The mother of two was pronounced dead at the scene. Jackson was admitted to Phoenixville Hospital with minor injuries.

"Her two young children are not going to have a mother to raise them and a husband is no longer going to have a wife and parents are not going to have a daughter," Steele said. "This all because he wanted to smoke dope and text while driving a car, which he turned into a lethal weapon."


On Twitter: @jad_sleiman

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