First the disclosure – I have known John Tiemann for twenty years and when he was involved in an automobile accident several weeks ago he called me. I represent him. If he is ever charged with a crime as a result of the accident, I will be there beside him as his lawyer. The accident happened on August 19th, and two equally wonderful people were killed. John was driving his car to work at the same time James and Mary Woychick were on their way home from Mass. They were well known and loved by the community and their deaths were tragic. While I did not know them personally, I had seen Jim at the YMCA as I tried to learn to swim. He slid through the water without effort.
So when I opened the Idaho Statesman this Sunday to read the report that John had tested positive for alcohol and drugs, I knew there had to be something wrong. John had assured me that he had nothing to drink that morning, and the idea that this gentle man was under the influence of drugs was equally ridiculous. I knew that if he had failed the field sobriety tests or the breathalyzer he would have been arrested on the scene. He did not fail either and he was not arrested.
So I wondered about the basis for the claim by the Statesman – their answer – the Idaho Vehicle Collision Report.
The problem is the Report does NOT say John was positive for either alcohol or drugs. It says that he was given a blood and urine test and that the results of NEITHER is known. In other words – the story is false. The Report does NOT say that John Tiemann tested positive for anything. The reporter, Cathy Sewell, did not apparently understand the Report. When it said "-U indicates Unknown" she apparently thought that meant "-U indicates he was drunk and on drugs!"
In fairness to her, the report contains a "block" for "Alcohol / Drug Involvement" that indicated both blood and urine tests had been done. The results are not back from the lab – but I am convinced that John was not operating the car under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.
I have asked the Statesman editors to correct the story. Some of John’s closest supporters had doubts. Had the Statesman simply waited for the results, the truth would have been known and not misreported. They say they want to make it right. I hope they do. I have simply asked them to do what is right – admit you got it wrong.
It must have been even more terrible to be in the Woychicks’ family, which has endured so much with the loss of James and Mary, to read that story on Sunday that the driver had both drugs and alcohol in his system at the time of the accident. Someone last week told me that the Woychicks’ children were trying to not hate the man who collided with their parents.
The Statesman undoubtedly made that worse without any reason to do so.
Like I said, I have known John Tiemann for twenty years. He says the lab results will prove he had neither drugs nor alcohol influencing his driving that terrible morning. Even if I did not believe him I would wait to see the test results. The Statesman should have done the same. But I do believe him, and I want to believe the Statesman will correct the story.