October Festival Guide

Questions remain surrounding death of Meg Menzies

HANOVER, Va. (WTVR) – One week after her tragic death, online tributes and a roadside memorial continue to grow for Meg Menzies, a beloved Hanover wife and mother, killed by an alleged drunk driver while running last week .

Over the weekend, 90,000 runners world-wide pledged to tack on miles for Menzies, a stay at home mom and the wife of an Ashland police sergeant.

Ed Deiss, a Hanover resident who never met Menzies, stopped by her memorial on Patrick Henry Road to pay his respects.

“I’m not a runner by any means, but she definitely carved her name in a lot of hearts,” Deiss said. “I was honored to run on Saturday for Meg.”

As condolences from across the globe continue to pour in, there are still several questions surrounding the Hanover physician charged in connection to Menzies’ death.

Was Dr. Michael J. Carlson, age 47, drinking the morning of the accident or had several hours passed since his last drink, as he alleged in court documents?

Carlson, a Bon Secours internist, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and DUI.

He is currently battling Leukemia and lost his own wife in a tragic car accident 10 years ago.

Michael J. Carlson (PHOTO: Hanover County Sheriff's Office)

Michael J. Carlson (PHOTO: Hanover County Sheriff’s Office)

The Carlson family was awarded a $20-million settlement based on the negligence of another driver, who hit Carlson’s car head-on while the family was in Buffalo, New York visiting relatives.

He has custody of his three children and cares for his fiancee’s two children.

According to his arrest warrant, Dr. Carlson told a Hanover County officer that he had not had a drink since 10 p.m. the previous night and was on his way to work when he became distracted by the radio and veered off the road.

However, the officer observed that Carlson “had a moderate odor of alcoholic beverage.” The officer also stated Carlson’s eyes were red and his speech was slurred.

A 12-ounce bottle of Samuel Adams Winter Lager, and  prescription bottle of Prednisone containing 20-mg tablets, and a sample package containing two 20-mg. tablets of Levitra were recovered.

According to court documents, Carlson had a BAC of .11 at the time of the accident.  The legal limit in Virginia is .08.

While some question Carlson’s story, defense attorneys said several DUI offenders fall in this category.

“They’re trying to do the right thing,” defense attorney Ed Riley said.  “They get up in the morning at six or seven and they’ve stopped drinking at midnight and they’ll still be under the influence.”

Robert Battle, a Richmond area defense attorney, authored a recent textbook on DUI laws and defenses in Virginia.

According to toxicologists in his book, the average rate in which a person eliminates alcohol is .010 to .017 per hour.

For example, a man who eliminatesdalcohol at a rate of .010 per hour, will take 10 hours to reach a BAC of .000. However, a similar man with an elimination rate of .015 per hour, could purge alcohol from his body in seven hours.

Several factors influence the rate of elimination, including a person’s weight, gender and the amount and type of alcohol they consume.

alcoholelminiationA person’s health, especially if they have a compromised liver, can also slow the process of elimination by several hours.

“The bell curve that you’d expect in a healthy person won’t necessarily occur with someone who might have a health problem,” Riley said.

Was this the case with Dr. Carlson?  Should he have known better as a physician?

These are questions, Riley said, a jury must decide although Virginia’s DUI laws leave little room for discretion.

“These are some of the hardest cases you’ll ever deal with,” Riley said.  “There are no winners here.”

Carlson is expected back in Hanover court in April.  He is currently out of bond.

Under the judge’s order, Carlson is not allowed to drink alcohol and must wear a SCRAM bracelet, which lets the court know if a person has been drinking alcohol.

Seating an impartial jury will be difficult if the case goes to trial, according to lawyers who spoke with CBS 6. Both Menzies and Carlson were well known and respected members of the Hanover community. Both the victim and defendant are the parents of three children.

Menzies’ supporters hope to spread awareness about drunk driving and the innocent lives that are destroyed when someone gets behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

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25 comments

  • Ard Vaark

    what relevance is having a ” … prescription bottle of Prednisone containing 20-mg tablets, and a sample package containing two 20-mg. tablets of Levitra ” to the case, neither are narcotics (as some reports had said were found).

    • Heather

      They mays still have adverse reactions when taking alcohol. Some times alcohol affects the way drugs act in the body, some times drugs can increase the affects of the alcohol.

    • Lezlee Sam

      One of many side effects of Prednisone is dizzines. I know, I was treated with that drug once and experienced dizziness.. Assuming Carlson still had alcohol in his system the effects of the drug could be compounded, that is if he had any in his system. His blood should be tested for that drug also.

  • scars

    I actually do feel kind of sorry for the driver in this case. He has had a lot of tragedy in his life and I can see why he turned to drinking to numb the pain. But, that does not in any way excuse what he did. I can have sympathy for his own self-destruction, but once your actions stop being just self-destructive and you start harming others — you have to accept the consequences. He has just sentenced another man to the kind of pain he suffered when he lost his wife. He has just sentenced her children to a life without their mother. Whatever sentence he gets pales in comparison to the punishment he inflicted on the victim and her family. This is tragic all the way around and I hope will serve as a wake up call to those who use alcohol or drugs to deal with their own issues. Get help before you end up in the same situation and cause untold grief to someone else because you chose alcohol or drugs over mental health care.

  • Steel Mill

    I also feel sorry for the driver; he made a tragic mistake. By all I have read he was a stand up guy.
    Just another example of drinking and driving not making sense.
    Makes one wonder how safe the streets really are after 6pm on a Friday or Saturday.

  • Pam

    I am sorry the Doctor Carlson’s tragidies. This is no reason to drink and drive and hit and kill another person. Take away his drivers license and also revoke his medical license!!!!!!!!!

    • Lezlee Sam

      He drank the previous day, slept and probably ate too. Its not as if he was at a bar and driving home when that accident occurred. So the level of negligence is not the same. There are many circumstances involved here many which the public is not aware of and accidents do happen. You cant judge him based on whats has been printed. It incomplete. Thats just ignorant!

      • njsweetpea

        I really am stunned. To suggest that the “level of negligence is not the same” when a drunk driver kills an innocent victim,after drinking the day before at home, then eating, and sleeping, as opposed to drinking in a bar, driving home and killing an innocent victim is about the most unintelligent, misinformed comment I have read here. The “level of negligence” is absolutely, unequivocally the same. Dr.Carlson, the drunk driver, killed Meg Menzies because he chose to drive drunk. Period.

        Additionally, it makes no difference how nice, and kind and great a guy Dr. Carlson is, or what tragedy he has experienced in his life. The reality and truth is that he chose to get behind the wheel of his car and drive, while he was “still drunk the next morning.” And, to the person who questions who ever thinks about still being drunk in the morning when you drink a lot the night before……anyone who has ever over-indulged the night before (enough to register a 1.1 on a breathalyzer and be slurring his/her words) the next morning is either a) very hungover, and knows he/she shouldn’t be driving; or 2) is an alcoholic, and knows he/she is an alcoholic and shouldn’t be driving.

        The medications Dr. Carlson had in his car and possibly may have taken have no bearing on his culpability or lack of culpability. As a physician, he would have and SHOULD have known how his medical condition and his medication(s) would affect or not affect the way in which his body processed alcohol. The issue of whether the bottle of beer found in his car was open or not open is also not germane to the discussion of Dr. Carlson’s guilt. It doesn’t matter.

        The only thing that matters is that Meg Menzies is dead. Had Dr. Carlson not made his decision to drive drunk, Meg Menzies would still be alive, Mr. Menzies would still have his wife, and the Menzies kids would not have to grow up without their mother.

      • Lesley

        Agreed John. I am not taken with folks who feel there is only one person to be concerned with or one side to be sorry for. While sympathy goes immediately to the family suffering the loss, many of us should be able to step back and empathize with all involved. It is not a black and white case. Too many assumptions being thrown around, too many people not looking at the details involved. We are neither judge nor jury here. It’s a sad and tragic situation for all involved.

  • James Neely

    You feel sorry for the driver? “He made a mistake?”. He made a decision to drink and drive is what he did. Your “feeling sorry” for someone who commits this type of murder is an example of the codependent attitude our society is permeated with, an attitude that is fostering the behavior that is killing innocent people, and then feeling sorry for the person that caused te death. Meanwhile, three more kids go to sleep without a mother. Another man must figure out how to keep it together without the woman he went to bed next to the night before. I was raised in an abusive alcoholic atmosphere too. And I became exactly that. But I made a decision 13 years ago to stop being the victim. A decision to stop making the rest of the world pay for my choices. That is a better decision than drinking and driving. One that is not likely to kill an innocent woman, and sentence he family to hell for the rest of their lives. He deserves life in prison. That’s what he gave to Meg’s family. That’s what he should get.

    • Paula Kennedy

      Amen!!! People act like this man rode a bike down the street and hit a bird!!! He KILLED a woman people, her children have no Mom now, her husband no wife, and her parents lost their child!!! Why is everyone who knows this man standing up and saying he is such a stand up guy?? Stand up people do not drink and drive and for people saying Prednizone cause dizziness……read the warning label on medication before you take them and drive but trust me a steroid medication did not cause this drunk to do what he did!!! I feel for his children but as for him, double shame when he lost his wife to a drunk driver and he does the same thing!

  • Linda

    I’ve read somewhere else that the bottle of beer wasn’t opened – that none of the packages were. I’m not sure who carries around a open or closed bottle of beer in their car. Alcohol should not be in the car—at all–unless it’s with your other groceries. I understand the other things may be medical samples he received at work. I’m sorry he made that choice of drinking, whenever it happened. If he was intoxicated from the night before, he should have been more responsible before getting behind the wheel. And we all should be that way as well. Stupid mistakes happen, but they can be avoided when we think before we act.

    • Josie

      The news reporters exagerate things. They did not state the beer was opened. It is not illegal to have a beer in your vehicle if it is unopened. Perhaps it fell out of the pack he had taken in his house several nights before and he did not even realize it? I also feel bad for the driver and his family. It is very unfortunate. How many people really think about if they are still under the influence if they go out the night before, go to bed at 10 or 11pm and think they are still under the influcence the next morning going to work? Not many, I can tell you that. This was a very unfortunate circumstance for all involved. It is not like he was coming home from a bar and severely intoxicated. It is a sad circumstance for everyone.

  • Steel Mill

    Great idea.. let us just hang the guy now and be done with it…
    For that matter whenever someone makes a bad choice.forget trials and the like just string them up.

    • sw

      You really need to stop posting ridiculous comments. Stop making excuses for this man. As a doctor he should have known better. If the officer smelled alcohol on his breath and he was till slurring his speach I don’t believe this is the first time this man has driven drunk only the first time he got caught.

  • Ted Nugent

    James, you are obviously an AAer. Nobody is saying that the man should not be punished for the crime commited. Nobody is saying he is not guilty. What they did say though was that they are human with human feelings!!. Go to a meeting and give your advice there.

    • James Neely

      I am as entitled to my opinion as you are, maybe more so since I am not hiding behind an alias. As far as you thinking you have any right to tell me what to do, really?, I am not your wife. You will have to bully someone else. For the record, I have been to only 1 AA meeting in 13 years. Perhaps you shoulfngive them a try. Thats where we learn yo be accountable for our actions. I simply stated that he should be held accountable for his actions. His actions killed another human being. What about her rights? What about the rights of her kids? Her husband? I am all about second chances. But there are consequences for ending another persons life. There have to be. He made a choice. Not a mistake.

  • Laura

    My family has known Dr. Carlson for many years. We never saw questionable behavior from him. You never met such a kind person. I do believe that he had been drinking the evening before. Of course this doesn’t change what has happened. I don’t think any of Dr. Carlson’s support think that. There is a whole other family that is going through what Dr. Carlson went through 10 years ago. And Dr. Carlson’s children lose both mother and father. Very, very sad.

    • sw

      The only ones who deserve any sympathy here is Meg Menzies, her husband, her children, her family and Dr Carlson’s children. All of his patients and supporters really need to stop making excuses for him. You can say all you want to that your are not excuses his behavior but you are when you call what he did a mistake. This woman is dead. This was not a mistake. This doctor chose to get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated without any regard for his children, or the others he would encounter along the way. End of story.

  • Lesley

    Off topic a bit….my research did not show the family was awarded anything for the accident the wife was in. It did find a court document stating a suit was file and appealed, and re-appealed and on and on and was thrown out of federal court in 2011. I believe they were then going to submit to the state. I never found what happened after and read on another news report that it had not been confirmed that the family was ever awarded anything. Just curious about the reporter’s facts here.

  • John Lahey

    I am glad to see people are realizing this is a tragic accident that is going to effect more than one family. You are going to always have the ignoramuses that just want to see it as black and white. Dr. Carlson is a good man who partied a little to hard the night before and has a disease that may not metabolize the alcohol at the same rate as a healthy person. Knowing Dr. Carlson, if he thought for a second he was legally drunk he would not have gotten in that car. If his lawyer is smart he will get a bench trial because the media has tainted a jury with all the hype. He didn’t go out and intentually mow down a runner. It was by the very definition an unfortunate accident. God bless him as well as the Menzies family.

  • Tcpupper

    Did any of you happen to see the shooting star falling in the video clip just after the news lady in the yellow Blazer stops talking and the video moves to the next clip showing the sky??? I have never seen a shooting star during the day like this. Absolutely amazing!!!!!!

  • icculus

    While a very tragic, traumatic event for the family and community I have one question:

    What was the husband doing and why did he walk away without a scratch? The RTD reported:

    “Carlson’s vehicle, according to the Hanover Sheriff’s Office, “ran off the right side of the roadway while in a curve,” apparently straying across the outside marking of the westbound lane of the two-lane highway. Menzies and her husband were running to the east, facing traffic, on the north side of the road. No details have been released regarding their exact location.”

    I repeat RTD says: “…Menzies and her husband were running”

    Were they running two abreast? Was he on the inside and she the outside? If he was running with her why is this fact buried in the article?

    If they were running two abreast on route 54 which has no shoulder and a speed limit of , at least, 45 mph. How come she was hit and he was left without a scratch?

    Suspect indeed!

    You people want to crucify the doctor because of Menzies very poor judgement of running a highway, two abreast, with no shoulder. Officer Menzie should have had better judgement in my opinion. Does he let his children ride their bikes on this road as well?

  • icculus

    It seems the fact of her husband, Officer Menzies, presence at the scene of the accident is being suppressed and the doctor’s character disparaged.

    The Menzies should bear responsibility for their poor judgement.

    Rout 54 is known to be a very dangerous road. Even for vehicles. Officer Menzie and his wife had no business running on that road. He should have known better. He is a trained policeman!!!! He knows the dangers yet he participated in such reckless behavior.

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