By John Clark
An ambulance driver in Ohio with a previous DUI arrest on his record who was involved in a fatal accident a few weeks ago was allegedly driving without a license at the time of the crash, according to a Columbus Dispatch report.
Sources say that, before causing the recent accident, 31-year-old Todd Picken had failed to recover his license after being convicted for drunk driving in July 2011.
The fatal crash took place on September 18, when the ambulance struck an SUV head-on after the SUV reportedly crossed the center line on a rural highway. The woman behind the wheel of the car, 53-year-old Marcia Frederick, was killed instantly.
Sources are quick to note, however, that the accident was probably caused by Frederick’s medical condition. She was battling cancer at the time of the accident, although sources do not say how her disease caused her to drive erratically.
Still, even though he may not have caused the accident, Picken is facing a lot of heat from officials in Madison County, Ohio. Local prosecutors have charged the ambulance driver with failing to reinstate his license and driving without an operator’s permit.
Picken, according to sources, pleaded not guilty to the charges, and is scheduled to make his first court appearance in mid-November.
County records show that Pickens was arrested in July 2011 for driving under the influence, and was later convicted on his DUI charge. After the conviction, Pickens had his license suspended for one year, according to sources.
Picken apparently failed to take the steps necessary to recover his license, and as a result, Jefferson Township, the entity for which he was working when the ambulance accident occurred, could be on the hook for a large financial loss.
According to one critic of the township, any city officials that believed “someone without a license should be driving a $200,000 (ambulance)” should be punished for their actions.
In addition, the critic notes that Picken’s DUI arrest was not the only red flag. Sources say that Picken has been charged twice with reckless driving, once with driving 90 miles per hour on a small highway, and once with tampering with a traffic-control device.
And because of Picken’s prior DUI conviction, as well as his failure to obtain a proper license, neither he nor Jefferson Township will likely be able to pay for the accident using insurance funds.
So the lesson here is that DUI convictions do not have to spell the end of someone’s driving career, but if you have your license suspended, you must take active measures to recover it after the suspension is lifted.