Whiting man pleads guilty to driving under the influence in car crash that killed Florida woman
A Whiting man has plead guilty to vehicular homicide and DUI in a car crash that later killed a Florida woman on Lacey Road in September of 2018.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said in a statement Thursday that at the time of 70-year old William Orr’s sentencing on May 10, 2021, the State will be seeking a term of three years New Jersey State Prison with a three-year-term of parole ineligibility.
Billhimer said that a plea agreement had been entered into after consulting with the family of Elizabeth Patashinsky, 40, of Palm Bay, Florida.
Lacey Police said in their initial investigation alongside the OCPO Vehicular Homicide Unit and OCSO CSI Unit of the September 28, 2018 crash that William Orr was heading west on Lacey Road around 3:30 pm when he crossed the center line and struck the car driven by Patashinsky head-on.
She was brought to Community Medical Center, where later passed away from her injuries.
A passenger in Patashinsky’s vehicle, William Muset, 66, of Whiting, was transported to Community Medical Center, treated for his injuries and released.
Orr was treated at the scene for his injuries.
Police said that Orr didn't show signs of impairment at the scene and wasn't able to perform any field sobriety tests due to a back injury which required him to use a cane for balance.
Orr was then taken to Community Medical Center, where he voluntarily consented to a draw of his blood.
On October 29, 2018, those toxicology results came in and showed the presence of four medications which had been lawfully prescribed to him: Alprazolam, Gabapentin, Oxycodone and Zolpidem.
No alcohol or illegal narcotics were detected in Orr’s system but Prosecutor Billhimer said that "forensic toxicologists nonetheless concluded that the combined psychoactive effects of those medications made Orr unfit to safely operate a motor vehicle."
Orr was then arrested at his residence by Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Lacey Police and Manchester Police and charged at that point.
He was transported to the Ocean County Jail, but released by the Court on November 2, 2018 as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.
“But for the compassionate and forgiving nature of the victim’s family - and their unequivocal desire to achieve closure after this two-and-one-half yearlong nightmare - this plea agreement would never have even been contemplated by this Office, let alone approved,” Prosecutor Billhimer said in a release. “It is only by the grace of Ms.Patashinsky’s family that we agreed to a sentence that is significantly less than what would otherwise have been recommended to the Court. This defendant should consider himself very fortunate that the victim’s family – in a show of tremendous mercy – requested this case be resolved is this manner. I wish to remind the public that impaired driving is not limited to being under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol. The combined effects of ingesting even prescription medications might very well have a deleterious impact upon one’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. I urge all motorists who use prescription medications to exercise extreme caution before they drive; failure to do so may produce deadly consequences, as this case so painfully demonstrates."
Ocean County Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Michael Abatemarco handled the case on behalf of the State.