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Driver in fatal crash had history of speeding

District Attorney Greg Newman plans to present the investigation of the Dec. 22 crash that killed a high school senior to a grand jury in March.
A State Highway Patrol crash report shows that Matthew Joseph Schmieder was driving 60 mph when he attempted to pass a vehicle on a double-yellow line and collided head-on with a 1991 Chevrolet pickup driven by 17-year-old Derek Lane Miller, who died as a result of the crash. Schmieder was airlifted to Mission hospital in Asheville and hospitalized for four weeks with multiple injuries.
“I’ve asked for more evidence from the State Patrol,” Newman said this week. “With Schmieder’s medical condition we don’t feel like we need to be in a real huge hurry and I’ve been in contact of course with the family.
“I think a grand jury is what we’re going to be doing. We’re not exactly sure what the charge is going to be right now.” Misdemeanor death by motor vehicle and manslaughter are among the possible charges, he added.
Investigators have not been able to interview Schmieder, who has hired Hendersonville attorney Roy Neill.
“I was told he got home last week,” Newman said of the driver. “They went to try to obtain an interview and his family members did not feel like he was in a position to do an interview. His medical condition is not great.”
A search of public records by the Hendersonville Lightning turned up a total of 15 traffic violations or cases resulting from moving violations such as failure to appear in court or failure to pay fines from 1998 to last November.
Schmieder, 36, has had a habit of driving fast from age 17, the records showed.
He was stopped for driving 80 mph in a 50 mph zone and failing to stop for a siren and flashing lights in Henderson County January 1980. He received eight more speeding tickets from that time until 2013, according to court and Division of Motor Vehicles records. He was also caught driving 84 mph in a 65 mph zone in 2013 in Rutherford County. In 2005, a Laurel Park police officer charged him with possessing a half-ounce of marijuana after a traffic stop, records show. Records reviewed by the Lightning showed no charge for driving while impaired. Newman, the district attorney, said he was not aware of a DWI charge against Schmieder. His license was revoked at the time of the crash.
Troopers investigating the crash said they suspect Schmieder was under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the crash, which occurred at 8 o’clock at night on Kanuga Road between Erkwood Drive and Crooked Creek. As of Monday, the State Highway Patrol had not received a toxicology report on blood drawn from Schmieder, Highway Patrol Sgt. Sgt. C.M. Goodson said. Highway Patrol troopers are working closely with the district attorney on the investigation and will follow his guidance on charges, Goodson said.
“We’re just trying to get our ducks in a row to make sure,” he said.
Schmieder could not be reached for comment.
Derek Miller’s mother said that on the advice of the family’s attorney she was not commenting on the case.
Newman said courtrooms are filled with motorists caught speeding once in a lifetime or very rarely in their driving history. Although habitual speeders usually get their licenses revoked, that doesn’t guarantee that they stay off the road.
“The charge for somebody like him is the state will revoke his license but they cannot take his car,” Newman said. “As long as he has access to a car and chooses to drive there’s not much the state can do. They’re not required to turn in their car.”