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In recent weeks we have blogged about the deadly I-240 automobile accident that killed a five (5) year old Oklahoma boy and severely injured his two (2) year old sister. As we discussed in those blogs, the driver (James Opp) crashed into a family’s car on the exit ramp of I-240 at full speed and without stopping. According to a local news story,

Opp admitted at the crash scene to drinking moonshine and to taking the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, according to a police report. A police officer reported Opp had an open beer can in the truck, smelled of alcohol, had bloodshot eyes and had very slurred speech.

At the time of the crash, Opp had been facing arrest for more than a year for alleged violations of his probation for cocaine possession. A judge authorized the arrest after being told Opp had failed to report in, failed to pay court costs and failed to attend counseling for relapse prevention.

Opp is now facing a first degree manslaughter charge for his actions. However, reports now state that Mr. Opp has been released on bail. Apparently, he paid $20,500 bail and was released from jail last Saturday.

The report also quotes the grandmother of the deceased as saying

We had confidence that he had enough of a record behind him and he had broken bond before and I didn’t even consider that they’d let him out,” Minor said. “It’s shocking to us, it’s hurtful and I think it will be to the community too … it’s just wrong that he’s out on the street and we want him behind bars.”

While I won’t dare to comment on criminal law and the basis for Mr. Opp’s release, I can say that I understand the feelings of the family of the deceased. They have already lost a loved one and continue to be at the two (2) year olds bedside as she tries to recover from her horrid injuries. Now the gentleman whose irresponsible actions hurt this family so deeply is out and able to cause similar harm again.

I will be the first to admit that Oklahoma’s incarceration rate is too high. I will also admit that judge’s hands are often tied by the law so I will not remotely lay blame there. However, given Mr. Opp’s propensity to drink and drive and his long history of drug and alcohol abuse, I see no guarantees that he will not get behind the wheel of an automobile. Let’s hope he doesn’t make similar irresponsible choices while out on bail.

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