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Misfortune mounts on ill-fated “party” ride

May 16, 2013

bloodshot eyesNot like it really needs saying, but: Don’t take pills and drive, especially if you’re traveling with heroin and lots of cash and don’t have a job. To drive the point home, consider the case of 49-year-old Sandra Diane Rust and 50-year-old Samuel Cornelius Rust, III, a married couple from Pennsylvania.

They were driving a 2006 Chevrolet Aveo on the Baltimore Beltway’s outer loop last Nov. 2, when Sandra crashed it into an empty SUV parked on the shoulder near the exit for Route 40. When Maryland State Police responded and noted that Sandra’s “speech was slow and slurred and she had bloodshot and glassy eyes,” according to court records, she denied she’d been drinking – though she admitted “that she took her prescribed Oxycodone, but could not remember how many she took or how long ago before the collision she took them.”

The couple was taken to University of Maryland Shock Trauma for treatment, where Samuel died from his injuries. Matters turned even worse for Sandra after the Maryland State Police arrived at Shock Trauma to Mirandize her on suspicion of driving under the influence, court records say.

A trooper asked Sandra for her drivers license, and she said it was in her purse – which, when the trooper rooted around in it, looking for her license, was found to contain two grams of heroin in seven bundles, $2,200 in cash, a digital scale with drug residue, an empty Oxycodone prescription bottle, and another prescription bottle with 18 pills of Diazepam, the modern brand of Valium.

Sandra told the trooper that she and her late husband “are both occasional users of heroin and consume it via snorting,” court records continue, and that at the time of the crash they were driving from Cumberland to Baltimore to “party with some friends.”   

After Sandra’s release from Shock Trauma, she was charged in Baltimore County with possession of heroin with intent to distribute, heroin possession, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her case is scheduled for trial in July.

Sandra and her late husband both have drug-possession priors in Baltimore County – in May 2011, she got probation before judgment and he was convicted – and neither, according to court documents, have any record of wages or employment.

To top off the high price of partying gone awry in this case – her husband’s death, medical-care charges, legal fees, and possible incarceration if convicted – Sandra now also stands to lose the $2,200 in cash that was found in her purse. On May 10, federal prosecutors filed a forfeiture case against the money, seeking to keep it.

The Rusts have not been strangers to being stripped of their valuables. In 2011, according to their hometown newspaper in Bedford, Pa., a man from Cumberland broke into their home and took $735 in cash, three firearms, two cell-phones, and a bunch of Oxycodone.

Perhaps the steep price Sandra’s paying due to the Baltimore Beltway tragedy will give her an overdue opportunity to mellow out on the party front – and serve as a warning to others who carry on in a similarly reckless fashion.