Des Moines police believe a teen was driving under the influence of marijuana when the truck he was driving hit a bicyclist Wednesday.
Eighteen-year-old Austin Clark is now charged with OWI and serious injury by vehicle for the crash that injured 36-year-old Christopher Koranda.
Witnesses told police Clark was driving northbound on 63rd Street at Tyler Avenue around 9:00 p.m. Wednesday when Clark’s truck hit Koranda. Koranda was thrown from his bike and Clark’s truck dragged the bike for a little ways down the road.
When an officer interviewed Clark he noticed the teen appeared to be under the influence of something because of his slow speech and dilated pupils. The officer also noticed Clark’s truck smelled of marijuana. During a search he found two bags of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
Police say Clark admitted the drugs were his and he had smoked marijuana earlier in the day.
“Typically any type of ingestion of narcotics will affect your reaction time one way or another. Marijuana is something that typically would relax or delay that reaction,” Sgt. Jason Halifax with the Des Moines Police Department said.
Clark also faces charges of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is being held in the Polk County Jail.
Clark’s attorney, Guy Cook said his client will plead not guilty to OWI, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and a charge of serious injury by motor vehicle.
“He’s very distraught, as any young man would be. Whether it’s his fault or not he’s very distraught about what happened,” Cook said.
Police say Koranda suffered a broken pelvis and a head injury. He is listed in stable condition.