Wrong-way driver claimed to be on 10 different prescription drugs

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- The woman accused of hitting and killing a motorcycle rider while she was driving the wrong way on the Loop 101 Sunday told investigators is taking at least 10 different medications - several of them, in the hours before the collision.

Court documents show that Carol Ann Sacca, 59, said she took morphine, Soma, Doxepin, Trazodone, Protonix, Singuliar, Amitiza, Lasix, Spironolactone and Cyproheptadine.

Sacca said she took the medication at about 8 p.m. on Saturday night. She said she fell asleep at about 3 a.m. on Sunday and woke up at about noon. She said she took one of the morphine pills when she woke up.

Police interviewed Sacca while she was in the hospital. She told them she was driving her 1996 silver Toyota Camry to Prescott to visit her father. She was going northbound on SR 51 after dropping her dog off at a friend's house.

She said she mistakenly drove onto the ramp from the SR 51 to the eastbound Loop 101. Sacca said as soon as she got on the ramp she realized her mistake and panicked. She said she had never been on the eastbound Loop 101 and needed to get to the westbound side. She made a U-turn on the highway and began driving westbound in the eastbound lanes.

Sacca said she knew she was traveling in the wrong direction, but she did not know how to handle the situation. Sacca said her intention was to find the next eastbound off-ramp where she would exit the highway to get to the westbound side.

Sacca told police that no one was traveling in her lane and no one had to take evasive action to avoid her. She said she saw three motorcycles coming toward her, so she turned on her hazard lights to warn the riders.

As the motorcycles got closer, Sacca said she changed lanes from the HOV lane to the number one lane. She become unconscious and woke up in her car in the middle of the highway. Investigators said it seemed Sacca did not appear to know she had collided with the motorcycles.

A certified drug recognition expert who evaluated Sacca issued an opinion that stated "Sacca was impaired at the time of the collision."

Investigators are waiting for blood test results which could lead to more charges. Sacca is currently facing charges of second-degree murder, endangerment, and criminal damage.

Scott Benson, 43, of Tempe, Ariz. is the motorcycle rider who was killed. He was pronounced dead at John C. Lincoln hospital. Benson's funeral is scheduled for Saturday.

One of the other motorcycle riders was transported to the hospital with several injuries, including a laceration to his left palm, a laceration below his left knee cap and cuts and abrasions to his right hand. He was treated and released.

The third motorcycle rider was not injured.

Sacca was also treated at the hospital before being booked into jail.

"I don't know if I'm going to say I'm that surprised," said Linda McKew who is a neighbor of Saccas.

McKew says the woman complained of her health many times whether it was cancer or a broken arm.

"I never saw it affecting her but she did have a lot of medications she was on... I was concerned about all the medications," said McKew.

But one medical toxicologist says the results of a pending blood test should give a better idea of what really happened on Sunday.

"Morphine, trazodone and soma can lead to alterations in the mental status if the patient has not developed tolerance to these medications," says Dr. Daniel Brooks with Banner Health.

Dr. Brooks cannot speak about Sacca's case specifically but says it's possible the drugs taken together would not have an adverse effect.

"There's lots of folks who can take these medications with similar effects with no evidence of altered mental state," said Brooks.