Teen Passenger Killed in Drowsy Driving Accident in Oklahoma

A teenager crashed his vehicle after falling asleep behind the wheel on November 23, just before 9 p.m. on U.S. Highway 281 in Oklahoma. The 17-year-old driver, Colby Ruthardt, was wearing his seat belt at the time of the collision and was not injured, but his passenger, 17-year-old Sabrina Birch, was thrown from the vehicle during the car accident. Birch was transported to OU Medical Center with head, internal and external trunk, leg and arm injuries, and she died at the hospital the following morning. If you have been injured in a serious car accident in Oklahoma, or if a loved one was killed in an Oklahoma crash, contact our attorneys at Atkins & Markoff as soon as possible. Our lawyers have extensive experience protecting the legal rights of car accident victims, and can help you and your family pursue the financial compensation you deserve for your losses.


According to police reports, Ruthardt was driving his pickup on U.S. 281 when he fell asleep and his truck ran off the roadway to the left, colliding with a barbed-wire fence. Oklahoma troopers indicated that the vehicle overturned and came to rest upside-down on the roadside, about one-half mile north of County Road 1220 in Caddo County. The official accident report listed Ruthardt’s condition at the time of the fatal car accident as “sleepy.” Driving while fatigued is extremely dangerous, and few people realize that the effects of drowsy driving can be equally as catastrophic as getting behind the wheel after drinking. In fact, a study conducted by researchers in Australia found that being awake for 18 hours resulted in a driver impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05%, and .10% after 24 hours – well beyond the legal limit of .08%.


A revealing study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicates that people who get six to seven hours of sleep per night have double the risk of being involved in a collision, compared to those who sleep eight hours or more each night. Similarly, people who slept less than five hours increased their car accident risk by four or five times. If you have suffered severe injuries in a car accident in Oklahoma City, or elsewhere in Oklahoma, caused by the alleged negligence of another driver, our reputable lawyers at Atkins & Markoff can help. Our team of knowledgeable attorneys will work diligently to protect your legal rights and help you seek fair and timely reimbursement for your injuries, medical bills and other accident-related damages.