State Police Report: Driver in fatal Falmouth crash was speeding; had THC in his system

James Lavin (l) and Owen Higgins (r) Photo courtesy of Falmouth Clippers Hockey

FALMOUTH – A just-concluded report on the fatal crash that claimed the lives of two Falmouth High School students last year has found the driver was speeding just before the accident.

The State Police investigation also found that James Lavin and Owen Higgins both had tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, in their system.

THC is the chemical compound found in marijuana.

The report, released Monday, said the car operated by Lavin on December 22, 2016, was traveling recklessly on Thomas B. Landers Road at a high rate of speed and illegally passed another vehicle over a double yellow line.

Lavin lost control of the vehicle, which left the roadway and struck a tree.

Lavin was pronounced dead at the scene and Higgins was flown to a hospital where he later died from his injuries.

According to the State Police report, there were no environmental factors, roadway defects or evidence of an interaction with another vehicle that may have contributed to this crash.

“The roadway was wet at the time of the crash, however there was no ice on the roadway observed at the scene. In addition, an inspection of the vehicle did not reveal any evidence of mechanical malfunctions that may have contributed to the crash,” according to the report.

The Medical Examiner’s toxicology report determined both students had the THC in their system. It did not say when or where they students may have ingested the drug.

Falmouth School Superintendent Nancy Taylor said the results of the report don’t change the fact that both families, the school community and the community at large suffered a great loss.

Taylor also said her office will be examining the “educational piece” of what happened to make sure they’re providing the right message about the use of drugs among the youth in Falmouth.

The investigation was conducted by the Falmouth Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis & Reconstruction Section (C.A.R.S.), who specializes in motor vehicle crash investigations.

The two were coming back from a hockey practice when their car left the road way and crashed into the tree near Geggatt road.