3 in fatal accident had been drinking

The three men killed in a fiery crash on Medford's West Main Street Oct. 1 had been drinking, results from toxicology tests completed by the state crime lab show.

The driver, Keith Allen "Aaron" Fox, 20, had a blood-alcohol level of .15 percent, nearly two times the legal limit in Oregon, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department said in a news release Monday. Passenger Nolan J. McCoy, 30, who owned the 1994 red BMW coupe that crashed, had a blood-alcohol level of .21 percent, and a second passenger, Russell Brice Kasper, 19, had a blood-alcohol level of .05 percent, below the .08 level that is the legal threshold of intoxication for adults. Both he and Fox were too young to drink legally.

All three died when the car, speeding west on West Main Street, careened out of control on a curve near the Tom Whittle Little League fields at about 1:15 a.m. Oct. 1. Investigators estimated the car was traveling between 50 and 70 mph, Sheriff Mike Winters said. The car hit a tree and rolled onto its side before catching fire.

Fox had a suspended driver's license, but friends said he was working to get his life together and earn his driving privileges back. McCoy had been charged with driving under the influence in August 2006 and entered a diversion program.

Friends last saw the three at about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 30, although they left a cell-phone message about an hour later describing being stuck in a ditch.

Jana Dittberner, whose Medford home was a refuge for the young men who died and their friends, said a deputy investigating the crash told her that the 11:30 p.m. call appeared to have been made from somewhere along Lozier Lane.

Winters said investigators worked to piece together where the three men were and what they were doing in the hours leading up to the crash, but that part of the report wasn't available Monday.

Dittberner said the three men who died should have known never to drink and drive, should have known that her house was always a safe place to stay or to call for a ride. She said she continues to stress that message to her son and other friends of those who died.

"Any automobile is a machine that can kill and adding alcohol is more deadly," she said.

Monday would have been Fox's 21st birthday and friends planned to gather at Dittberner's to play music and remember him.

"They're all real solemn," she said. "Everything is a reminder."

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.

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