Report: Driver in fatal crash had drugs in system


Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — A Westland man involved in a car crash that killed him and two others on Ford Road at Telegraph Jan. 4 had traces of illegal drugs in his system, according to a recent toxicology report.

Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office Spokesperson Sarah Bazzi said 48-year-old Darrel Maniaci had traces of drugs in his system and died from multiple injuries sustained from the crash that also killed 18-year-old Dearborn resident Markel Jackson-Willis and 19-year-old Dearborn Heights resident Adnan Berisha, who were in another vehicle.

Bazzi said she did not know which drugs were found in Maniaci’s system.

“Sometimes from reading a (toxicology) report, they can tell (you) what drugs were present,” Bazzi said, “but not at what level or if drugs contributed to (an) accident. That is the challenge we face with toxicology results, the challenge of not (being) able to tell you what (drugs) they were and what (their) levels were.”

Berisha drove a Honda Accord west on Ford Road with front-seat passenger Jackson-Willis and Willis’ cousin, 21-year-old Westland resident William Willis, when Maniaci’s Ford Ranger hit the car’s front passenger’s side.

Jackson-Willis and Berisha died instantly and Maniaci died at Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center that day. Willis was taken to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit for an operation.

Both vehicles flipped over onto a nearby median.

Police Department Traffic Division Cpl. Leonard Stewart declined to specify what drugs were in Maniaci’s system during the crash.

“It was not a controlled drug like pills,” Stewart said. “It was illegal. Whether he had an ounce or gram (in him,) it is illegal.”

Stewart said Maniaci had “fresh” illegal drugs in his system, taken within 30 minutes to an hour before the car crash.

“It probably give(s) some reason as to why he was driving the way he was,” Stewart said.

Stewart said with legal medication such as prescription painkillers or antibiotics, drivers need to remain vigilant.

“There are so many different things that can affect your driving,” Stewart said. “We get so many people on different types of painkillers having car accidents or getting arrested for operating under the influence. Even a legal drug like Vicoden … slows your body’s reactions down.”

      (Sherri Kolade can be reached at