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DA: Marijuana found in driver in fatal crash

Thomas Smith, 20, of Ridge, is led out

Thomas Smith, 20, of Ridge, is led out of the Seventh Precinct in Shirley for arraignment Sunday in Central Islip Criminal Court. (April 15, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

Toxicology results from the Ridge man who crashed last month into a tree, killing his girlfriend and another passenger, show he had marijuana in his system "consistent with recent use," said a spokesman for the Suffolk District Attorney's office.

Spokesman Robert Clifford said testing done by the Suffolk crime lab did not find any additional controlled substances in Thomas Smith's blood but the investigation is ongoing.

Smith, 20, was driving back home from an amusement park in New Jersey on April 14 with three passengers when he told police he dozed off and woke up to screaming. Smith was driving north on William Floyd Parkway just north of Longwood Road -- less than two miles from his home -- when the passenger side of the SUV slammed into the tree, police said.

Smith's girlfriend, Jacqueline Salvador, 19, of Ridge, and friend Ryan Baumgartner, 17, of Rocky Point, died in the 1:24 a.m. crash. Both were sitting on the right side and ejected from the vehicle by the impact which police described as "horrific."

Prosecutors said last month Smith had admitted to police that, before the accident, he had smoked marijuana and taken muscle relaxants. According to court documents, police at the scene said Smith appeared lethargic, his eyes were bloodshot, he had a "slow, thick speech" and was delayed in his responses when they interviewed him shortly after the crash.

Smith was uninjured. The third passenger, Taylor Lynch, 16, of Shirley, sustained minor injuries.

Smith was arraigned and released from the Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead last month on $150,000 bond.

Baumgartner's mother, Randi Baumgartner, broke down after Smith's arraignment, shouting, "He killed my son . . . I can't believe he killed my son and he got bail."

He told Newsday he took two Flexeril tablets, for which he had a prescription to treat a previous neck injury, after going on a roller coaster at a Six Flags amusement park.

Jacqueline Salvador's brother, Johnny Salvador, 17, of Coram, was also a passenger in the vehicle and broke an arm and leg in the crash. Another passenger, Taylor Lynch, 16, of Shirley, suffered minor injuries.

Smith remains charged with a misdemeanor count of driving while ability impaired by drugs, which carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail. He is due back in court May 14.

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