In a painful lesson that alcohol is not the only drug that causes death when mixed with driving, a 25 year-old woman was killed this past Sunday when her car was hit in a head-on collision by a car driven by a drug-addicted driver. Alison Regan, 25, who was a special needs teacher at the Boston Higashi School in Randolph, died when a truck driven by Eric Lum, 29, of Randolph struck her car head on. She died in the collision. Police found Regan on Route 28 on the Quincy-Milton line still belted into her 1989 Oldsmobile Cutlass, bleeding profusely from her head. The car’s roof had caved in and no air bags had deployed, according to investigators. The school released a statement Monday saying it was “deeply shocked and saddened” by her death. I’m sure they are, as I’m sure are many others who knew Ms. Regan.
The defendant, Eric Lum, 29, of Randolph, appeared in Quincy District Court yesterday and pled not guilty to Massachusetts motor vehicle homicide and other related Massachusetts drug charges and Massachusetts vehicular charges. Lum was ordered held on $100,000 bail. State police and prosecutors said the 29-year-old Randolph man was driving a stolen SUV that crossed the center line of Route 28 just after midnight on Sunday and slammed head-on into a car driven by Ms. Regan. State troopers reported finding a bent, burnt spoon coated with a “brown oily residue” and a syringe in the wreck of the Ford Explorer Lum allegedly stole from his grandfather Walter Seyfert, 82. Though Lum denied using or injecting heroin prior to the crash, the defendant’s father, Ronald Lurn, 55 referred to him as “a long-term junkie,” and said the 210-pound stock car-racing enthusiast has been addicted to heroin for more than seven years.
After his son’s arrest and arraignment, the elder Lum told reporters, “”For the Regans, it’s horrible. For us, there’s some salvation that he won’t end up dead. “You think of a heroin addict as a bum in the street. That’s not always the case. We’ve done everything we could from being overbearing, to too lenient, to enablers.” Shockingly, the defendant’s grandmother – the wife of the defendant’s grandfather from whom the defendant reportedly stole the truck that killed Ms. Regan – had something different to say: “He’s a good boy,” Florence Seyfert, 81, insisted of her grandson yesterday as she left his arraignment, pushing past reporters. To make matters even worse, the defendant, according to police, fled into nearby woods after the crash. When police apprehended him about an hour later, he reportedly said that he “didn’t think it was fair” he could be jailed, state police allege.
According to Norfolk County Assistant District Attorney Emily Nesson, Lum, a mechanic and carpenter, appeared in Stoughton District Court last month for driving with a suspended license, which he has been convicted of six times. Allegedly, Lum’s history of driving offenses at the state Registry of Motor Vehicles spans 12 pages, dating back to 1998. It includes Massachusetts speeding, multiple Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents, fleeing the scene of property damage and having his license revoked for four years in April 2007 for being a “Massachusetts habitual traffic offender.”
As a Boston criminal defense attorney who regularly handles Massachusetts OUI, Massachusetts vehicular homicide cases and Massachusetts drug offense cases, I can assure this defendant that he is in some deep trouble. While, like all criminal defendants, this defendant deserves a vigorous defense, it also seems clear – at least given the evidence available at this point (and I emphasize this point)– that he needs to be incarcerated until something can be done to adequately address his seemingly apparent drug addiction problem. I’ve blogged before that I believe treatment should take priority over incarceration, but if this man is found to be guilty of this death, or if he otherwise pleads guilty to this death, I believe he should be incarcerated. A promising young life has been snuffed out; family and friends left in grief. For drug offenses that do not result in serious bodily injury or death, however, I stand by my previously-stated position that treatment, not incarceration, is the wiser, more effective judicial choice.
My condolences to the Regan family at this loss.