A Kansas City, Mo. man faces up to four years in prison for allegedly causing a fatal car accident in February while under the influence of a cocktail of drugs. Last week, Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd charged Anthony John Battaglia, who turns 30 on Sept. 19, with a pair of felonies after results of recent toxicology reports found five different prescription drugs were in his system at the time of the crash. A preliminary breath sample on the night of the Feb. 10 accident showed a blood alcohol level of .016 percent — well below the legal limit — but the presence of the drugs were enough to warrant a Class C felony charge of first degree involuntary vehicular manslaughter for being intoxicated, according to court documents.
At about 11:30 p.m. on the night of the accident, Battaglia’s 2002 GMC Yukon was traveling westbound on Highway 152 near the southbound Interstate 435 exit ramp. He missed the ramp and traveled off the roadway striking a 2005 Chevrolet Malibu parked with its emergency flashers on before careening into a broken down 2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
Later information revealed Battaglia was traveling at 82 mph prior to the crash and about 78 at the time of impact in a 55-mph zone.
Donald Gayle Rippy, 62, and Parker R. Elgin, 17 — the occupants of the Malibu — were taken by ambulance to North Kansas City Hospital where an emergency room doctor pronounced Rippy dead. Elgin is the grandson of the deceased.
A check determined Battaglia was driving on a suspended license, and after submitting to the breath sample, he told a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper he was headed home at the time of the accident. When told he was not near the area of his residence near Highway 169 and Barry Road, he appeared disoriented and confused.
Battaglia admitted to having a beer at a friend’s house about 9 p.m. and admitted to taking muscle relaxant and anti-depressant medication earlier in the day.
After being taken into custody for driving while suspended, Battaglia failed multiple field sobriety tests, and based on his admission of taking alcohol and drugs, he was placed under arrest for driving under the influence. A blood sample was taken, which came back positive in early April for amphetamine, alprazolam (commonly known as the anti-anxiety medication Xanax), hydroxybupropion (the by-product of an anti-depressant), carisoprodol (a prescription muscle relaxer) and meprobomate (another anxiety medication).
There was no alcohol detected in the blood sample, taken more than four hours after the accident.
A search of Battaglia’s vehicle revealed multiple suspected prescription drugs. Tests later revealed them as bupropion, amoxicillin, alprazolam and carisoprodol — the latter two schedule IV controlled substances, resulting in a second Class C felony charge of possession.
Each felony carries a maximum sentence of two years.
Battaglia remains in custody at the Platte County Detention Center on a $50,000 cash-only bond. His initial appearance in Division II Court is scheduled for Oct. 9.