Roger Wittenberns of West Palm Beach, Florida was arrested on Monday for allegedly causing a car crash that led to the death of Uber driver J. Gerald Smith in September last year. Wittenberns, 61, faces charges of DUI manslaughter, DUI causing injury, and vehicular homicide.
He turned himself in and was booked into Palm Beach County Jail on June 12. His bond was set at $450,000 during his first court appearance on Tuesday morning. If he bonds out of jail, he will be placed on house arrest and is not to have contact with any witnesses. The judge made an exception for his wife, Patty Ann McQuiggin, who is one of the witnesses in the case.
Wittenberns is also required to surrender his passport and driver’s license to the court, and is prohibited from driving, drinking alcohol, or having drugs without a prescription. He will be subject to random tests for drugs and alcohol.
According to the arrest report, the alleged crash occurred at NE 6th Avenue on September 21. Wittenberns and his then-girlfriend McQuiggin had reportedly spent the afternoon drinking at a restaurant in downtown Delray. The couple allegedly ordered more than a dozen alcoholic drinks.
A copy of Wittenberns’ receipt from the restaurant reportedly shows that they ordered three Cosmopolitans, three Long Island Iced Teas, and three “Goose 4oz” before they moved to the bar and ordered another “Goose 4oz,” a Long Island Iced Tea, and a vodka martini. Their server reportedly confirmed that Wittenberns drank three Long Island Iced Teas.
When they left the restaurant, Wittenberns drove a Lamborghini and McQuiggin followed in a Porsche. He drove north on NE 6th Avenue at 75 mph and crashed into a Buick Enclave driven by Smith, 82. He later told police that he was unable to stop his vehicle before he crashed into Smith’s car.
Investigators tested Wittenberns’ blood at a hospital less than an hour after the crash and his blood alcohol level was 0.15, which is almost twice the legal limit in the state. A police officer wrote in the report that Wittenberns appeared tired and had glassy eyes and slurred speech.
He purportedly told the investigators that he had “a couple of drinks” and admitted that he ordered a Long Island Iced Tea, but couldn’t recall how many he drank. He said his server might have “brought a second one.” He also reportedly said that he was taking medications that included Xanax and a blood thinner.
Wittenberns and McQuiggin got married at a courthouse in November. People at risk of criminal charges can gain certain protections through marriage. Marriage protects a wife or husband from testifying against a spouse in criminal and civil cases, even if an event occurred before the marriage began. It also protects jointly-owned assets from being seized in a lawsuit.
Smith’s widow, Eloisa Smith, reportedly filed a wrongful death suit against Wittenberns that was settled in April for an undisclosed amount.