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Meth user sentenced for crash that injured five

A Medford man was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison for causing a crash in April that injured two women and three children while he was high on methamphetamine.

David Americus Hixson, 52, pleaded guilty Tuesday to five counts of third-degree assault and a charge of driving under the influence of intoxicants.

Hixson, who has a lengthy criminal history, said he has been using illegal drugs since he was 12 years old.

On April 19, Hixson was seen driving erratically on I-5 before taking Exit 33 at Central Point and driving toward Medford. His truck crossed the median on Biddle Road and struck a Dodge Caravan with the five victims inside, according to the Jackson County District Attorney's Office.

One woman suffered injuries that included a lacerated spleen while the other woman had back pain. A 7-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy had injuries that included lacerations to their faces, while a 10-year-old boy had cuts to his head, court documents said.

The father of the children, who had been following his family's van, saw Hixson hit a curb and crash into an irrigation ditch. The father didn't realize Hixson had struck his family and stopped to help Hixson, according to Medford police and the District Attorney's Office.

The father immediately noticed Hixson seemed intoxicated. Hixson was taken to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center, where he admitted he was "right in the middle" of coming down off a meth high when the crash occurred. He said he had taken meth that morning. A urine test confirmed the presence of meth in his system, according to police and prosecutors.

The victims of the crash were taken to Providence Medford Medical Center, according to police.

Hixson was arrested after his release from the hospital. When his fingerprints were run through the system, he was connected to a theft case in which his fingerprints had been found on the internal workings of a slot machine, according to court testimony.

On Tuesday, Hixson pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary in that case. He was sentenced to one year and six months in prison, but will serve the sentence at the same time he serves his seven-year sentence in the DUII case.

Hixson also pleaded guilty to first-degree theft for stealing a money bag containing at least $1,000 from a Purple Parrot store. He will serve his 18-month prison sentence in that case at the same time he serves the DUII sentence, as well.

A fourth case charging him with first-degree theft and unauthorized use of a vehicle was dismissed. Hixson allegedly took $1,600 from his employer that was supposed to be used to pay a bill and gambled away the money. He also allegedly stole a work vehicle.

Hixson said in court Tuesday that he thinks about his own life whenever he sees commercials warning people to never try meth.

"You should have listened to those commercials. You should have listened to Nancy Reagan," said Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lorenzo Mejia, referring to the former First Lady's advertising campaign urging youths to "Just Say No" to drugs.

Hixson said he is trying to figure out how he can avoid hurting any more people in the future.

"When I'm high, the people who care about me are the ones I stab in the back first," he said.

Hixson was convicted of burglarizing a Medford house in 2012, possession of methamphetamine in 2014 and second-degree theft in April, according to court records.

Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.

Meth user sentenced for crash that injured five