An area man is being indicted on several felonies after a grand jury heard the case of how he was involved in a crash that took the life of one of his sons and injured another.

James Luksza, 33, of Potosi, is being charged with a class C felony of involuntary manslaughter in the first degree, a class D felony of assault in the second degree, two class B felonies of endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree, two class D felonies of possession of a controlled substance, and a class D misdemeanor of possession of a controlled substance.

According to a probable cause statement, on Jan. 3, 2017 at 12:08 p.m. the Missouri State Highway Patrol was notified of a possible fatal accident on northbound U.S. 67 just north of Highway 47 in St. Francois County.

The trooper arrived and saw a black Honda Accord off the right side of the road with heavy front-end damage from striking a tree. An ambulance with the St. Francois County Ambulance District was leaving the scene with a very critical patient from the crash, later identified as Chasen T. Luksza, age 3.

The ambulance crew took Chasen to Parkland Health Center in Bonne Terre for treatment. The driver of the car, later identified as James Luksza from his Missouri State ID, was standing in the grass between his crashed car and the shoulder of the highway.

A volunteer firefighter was trying to give medical assistance to James, but he was very uncooperative. He was bleeding from a large cut on his face, and was failing to comply with directions.

The trooper reported that James’ speech was mumbled and sometimes incoherent. James would yell, but it appeared that he was yelling because he was worried about his children and not from the pain from his injuries.

The trooper learned there had been another child in the car, later identified as James Luksza Jr., age 5, who was now in a passerby’s truck.

James told the trooper he had just left the hospital because of an issue with a tooth and was denied pain medication.

He told the trooper his insurance and registration were in a blue container in the glove box of the car. When the trooper asked James what happened he replied, “I don’t know, it knocked the s**t out of me.”

The report said James knew the children were in the backseat, but he did not recall which child was sitting where. A deputy told the trooper there were drugs in the car. Due to the seriousness of the crash another trooper had James perform the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, a sobriety test which gives indication of possible drug use.

That trooper said he did not see any clues during the test, and while he did the test the reporting trooper went to the car and found the blue plastic container. Inside the container the trooper found a baggie with a white crystalline substance, a baggie with marijuana, another baggie with five prescription medication pills, and an orange and black device used for smoking which contained burnt residue.

The trooper took all the drug-related items as evidence and was later able to identify the pills as Diazepam. A short time later the trooper received word that Chasen had died from his injuries.

During the reporting trooper’s crash evaluation he determined that James was driving northbound on U.S. 67. He had told a firefighter he was distracted by his kids.

The car went off the right side of the road, up an embankment and struck a tree. The trooper reported that while looking everything over he noticed that James did not try to return to the roadway by steering to the left.

Evidence also showed that James was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. In the backseat was two booster seats and no child restraint systems.

James Jr. was taken to Mercy Hospital Jefferson by Joachim Plattin Ambulance District with serious injuries. 

The trooper noted that despite obvious serious lacerations James did not appear to be in any pain.

James was placed under arrest based on evidence.

The trooper asked James when the last time he used illegal drugs was and he denied any illegal drug use.

James was informed of the Missouri Implied Consent Law and the trooper requested a sample of James’ blood. He refused to provide a sample for testing.

Eventually James reportedly told another trooper at the scene that he refused the blood sample because he used drugs a couple days prior. 

The ambulance crew eventually transported James to St. Anthony’s Medical Center in St. Louis for treatment of his injuries.

Also found at the scene was a cloth camouflage bag containing an iPhone 5S box. Inside the box was a white prescription medication bottle cap, two used syringes, one small piece of cotton, one clear plastic straw and a piece of green hose.

There was also nine clear plastic sandwich baggies and a ReliOn insulin syringe box. The box contained four sealed packages of 10 syringes, one open package of 10 syringes and one package containing eight syringes. All drug related items were seized for evidence.

A computer check of James revealed that his Missouri driver’s license expired Jan. 31, 2013 and he had limited driving privileges. He also had four active suspension/revocations and the most recent was a revocation from Aug. 10, 2016.

He also had one prior conviction for no driver’s license in 2016 and two prior convictions for driving while suspended/revoked - one form 2015 and the other in 2016.

James also had a prior alcohol-related arrest on Aug. 27, 2011 out of Franklin County that was dismissed in court on March 7, 2016.

The trooper applied for a search warrant for James’ blood and the request for a sample was granted.

The reporting trooper forwarded the warrant to another trooper, who went to St. Anthony’s Medical Center and executed the warrant.

It was later learned that James Jr., age 5, suffered pelvic fractures, a spinal fracture and a right wrist fracture.

Following the grand jury indictment and handing down of the new charges, James was being held in the St. Francois County Jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond. 

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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