Wreck on Buford Highway leaves two girls injured, arrested driver under influence of drugs


Image used from Renan Kamikoga via Unsplah under Creative Commons license

All aboard. Every day, hundreds of students board school buses with an expectation to reach school safe and sound. However, drivers such as those under the influence can endanger this safety. “Parents trust buses to get their kids to school safely, and the fact that someone took that job lightly and almost got kids killed [makes me angry],” Madsen asserted.

By Naisha Roy, South Forsyth High School

On Friday, November 15th, a car swerved around a school bus and continued on the sidewalk, injuring two young girls that were waiting on the curb as well as an adult. The driver was a 19-year-old Forsyth county resident arrested for having been under the influence of drugs while driving.

The two girls were in first and fourth grade, and 43-year-old Jose Arturo-Nunez was standing along with them waiting to board their bus. Just then, Christopher Ray Frachiseur, 19, swerved around the bus to avoid hitting it, losing control of his car and hitting the trio. Officials sent all of them to the hospital, where one of the girls is currently in the ICU while the other two are safe. As for Frachiseur, police sent him to Forsyth County Jail under no bond for multiple counts:

Senior Sydney Madsen had a brother who was on the same bus that went through the crash. “I’m very protective of my younger brother,” she stated, “when I heard about what had happened I just about left class.” This horrible event was the result of one of the most dangerous behaviors plaguing our country today: Driving under the influence of drugs.

The Issue

In 2010, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration found that “10.1 million (4.1 percent) drove under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year.”  In fact, those numbers are highest (percentage wise) for those aged 16-20, the perfect demographic to explain Frachiseur’s actions. When thinking of “driving under the influence,” most people think of alcohol, but drugs provide as much of an influence. Many drugs have a similar effect to  alcohol when it comes to driver actions. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse,

“If you aren’t in the right mind [set] or have taken something that could affect you, don’t drive,” Madsen continued.

Responsible actions. Deputy Chambers shared his experience with people driving under the influence. Oftentimes, they don’t realize the implications of what they’re doing and endanger others. “You have to realize you’re putting yourself, a person under the influence of drugs, behind this weaponized vehicle that’s traveling 70, 80 miles an hour,” he advised. Image was taken by Chris Bunker.

Deputy Chambers, the school’s resident expert on drug abuse, commented on the accident.

What is your opinion on the accident that happened on Buford Highway?

“It was reported that he was driving under the influence of drugs.  I do not know the circumstances of how they determined that. Typically, when we arrest somebody for DUI drugs, we read an implied consent card, which is a green card, requesting them to the state-administered chemical test of their blood. Once the person agrees to take that test we send to get that blood, we do it at the jail or hospital. Then we take that blood and sent it off to the JBI. It takes about two months, maybe three months, to get that blood back so that’s where we can get em. 

Now I think they had a  different option, I believe that possibly this individual was on probation. So when an individual is on probation, they do not have their fourth amendment protected as we do, as someone who hasn’t committed a crime. In that case, they’re subject to random drug screenings at any given point in time, so [maybe] that’s how they determined he was on drugs.  So driving under the influence of drugs is bad. What type of drugs was it? It could have been methamphetamines, heroin, depressants; not quite sure, Xanax, cocaine, not sure what type but they determined he was on drugs.”

What makes driving on drugs so dangerous?

“What’s so dangerous about it, and not just the illicit side, just talking the prescription side because everybody thinks that if they get it from the doctors, it’s very normal to say ‘Ok, well my doctor gave this to me and I’m supposed to take it because I’m sick.’ But the thing is, taking these medications especially if you’re taking pain meds [is that] you’re not supposed to operate the vehicle because there’s a disclosure on the medicine bottle that says do not operate heavy machinery. So when you start dealing with these opioids, hydrocodone, oxycodone, Percocets and different types of drugs, they start to diminish the functionality of your motor skills.

Your five motor skills start to diminish rapidly because you’re taking these medications, you’re not supposed to be operating machinery; you’re supposed to be sleeping and recovering. But people take it, and they feel the pain go away and they think ‘oh I can drive and the doctor gave it to me it’s ok for me to drive on this’ OR they might be on a Xanax. If you take Xanax and you couple that with alcohol, you have a depressant with another depressant which is alcohol, some people abuse it. Like, “Oh, I had a stressful day” so instead of using the prescribed dosage of half a pill or a pill now they’re popping two pills or even three. So now they’re operating a vehicle underneath this prescription medication but they’re taking a lethal dosage so they’re even more dangerous behind the wheel. So that’s what makes it very dangerous especially with prescription medications.”

What about the Illicit side of drugs?

“The illicit side, you’re talking about your addicts. When you’re talking about gateway drugs, even driving underneath the influence of marijuana which has become more socially acceptable. Marijuana can slow down your system so you have the late response which is why you have people like “hey dude everything’s ok I’m just smoking this weed.” Everything seems very chill and mellow with a person who smokes marijuana so their motor skills start to diminish. Now you start to kick it up with meths where you talking about a stimulant where the person is very excited, very erratic movements they’re driving crazy over the road. They’re looking, they think they’re driving slow but really they’re driving fast. Or they might think they’re driving slow but they’re going really fast so they start to drive faster. Depending on what they’re on. So you’re looking at your meths your cocaine, a lot of these things you start coupling that behind the wheel driving, so dangerous. Because now you’re putting yourself, a person under the influence of drugs, behind this weaponized vehicle that’s traveling 70, 80 miles an hour. 

I’ve dealt with something like that where we were chasing this guy and he was under the influence of methamphetamines and he was listening to hard rock music, or heavy metal music inside that chase ended up all the way by 285 and he did not even realize he was being chased, hit cars and everything. So that’s the danger in using these illicit type drugs. Cuz you’re gonna get a more exciting” delirium behavior from these individuals or a more mellowed out individual i.e. person that’s smoking marijuana and when we deal with those individuals it’s just very dangerous.”

How can accidents like this be prevented in the future?

“Just a lot of education, a lot of folks need to just keep in mind that driving under the influence of drugs is as bad as driving underneath the influence of alcohol. And the way we determine that is there’s behavior that a person underneath the influence of med will mimic the same exact behaviors of a person underneath the influence of alcohol has. So it’s a no go just because your doctor prescribed you those meds, if it says do not operate heavy machinery, don’t do it. Stay away from illicit drugs stay away from marijuana, THC or vaping with THC, staying away from heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines stay away from these illicit drugs because you’re not only destroying your lives but you’re gonna destroy the lives of others as well.”

At the end of the day, drug abuse is a serious problem but combined with driving, the dangers extend to beyond just the user. Frachiseur’s case was just one unfortunate example of millions of teens across the nation about to do the same thing. While not as widely acknowledged as drunk driving, driving under the influence of drugs is just as dangerous- and needs to be addressed.

This story was originally published on The Bird Feed on November 22, 2019.