By: Patti Weaver
(Stillwater, Okla.) — A Payne County jury has recommended a five-year prison term for a 33-year-old man convicted of first-degree manslaughter by recklessly driving at a high rate of speed on Highway 51 west of Stillwater that resulted in a fatal crash at 7:28 pm on Aug. 11, 2017.
Christopher M. Tucker of Yukon remains free on $10,000 bail pending his sentencing on July 6 before Associate District Judge Stephen Kistler, who presided at his trial last week.
Tucker was convicted of speeding, losing control of his 2013 Dodge, and rear-ending a 2007 Nissan that went out of control and struck a tree — causing the death of the Nissan passenger, Phyllis Sams, 81, of Stillwater, court records show.
Data from the Dodge’s airbag control module showed that Tucker “was driving 95 mph five seconds prior to impact, with an impact speed of 92 mph,” according to an affidavit of Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Anthony Harper.
OHP Trooper Tim Baker “determined the Nissan’s speed to be 47 mph. The speed limit for SH 51 is posted at 65 mph,” the affidavit said.
When Tucker was confronted about his license being revoked, “He told me he knew his license was revoked due to a 2014 DUI,” Harper alleged in his affidavit.
The Nissan was driven by the victim’s husband, Larry Sams, 83, of Stillwater, who was transported to the Stillwater Medical Center for treatment for his injuries, the affidavit said.
“The initial collision caused Mr. Sams’ vehicle to careen off the north side of the roadway and impact the tree. The resulting collision injured Mr. Sams and caused the death of his wife,” the affidavit said.
When Tucker was interviewed while seated in the back of an ambulance, “He told me that he was westbound driving between 72 and 73 mph and was putting on chap stick. He said he dropped the chap stick and was retrieving it from the front passenger seat,” the trooper wrote in his affidavit.
“He said when he turned his attention back to the road, he saw brake lights and collided with Mr. Sams’ vehicle. Prior to having the subject transported to the hospital for a blood draw, he advised me he drank of a couple of drinks while working in Stillwater and that he takes Adderall for his ADHD. He stated he is not prescribed the medication, but gets it from different individuals,” the trooper alleged in his affidavit.
According to a blood test at the Stillwater Medical Center that was analyzed by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s laboratory, Tucker’s blood alcohol was .13 at the time of the fatal crash,” the affidavit alleged.
Tucker was charged by First Assistant District Attorney Kevin Etherington with causing the victim’s death by drunk driving or in the alternative by reckless driving, the latter of which he was convicted on April 30 at the week-long trial. First-degree manslaughter carries a minimum prison term of four years, court records show.