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Prison in Ambien-addled Highway 49 vehicular murders

By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Phillip Ingram is now serving 30 years to life after being convicted and sentenced in the highway homicides of two teens in North Auburn.

 

More than two years after an Ambien-addled Phillip Ingram drove off the road and fatally struck two teens walking on Highway 49, a judge’s sentencing will put him behind bars for at least 30 years.

Two consecutive 15-years-to-life state prison sentences were ordered Aug. 24 by Placer County Superior Court Judge Charles Wachob for the North Auburn murders of 15-year-olds Jared Gaches and Trevor Keller.

Ingram, a 64-year-old Auburn resident, was convicted by a jury in June of two counts of second-degree murder in the April 3, 2016, deaths of Jared and Trevor. Both were Auburn residents and Placer High students.

Evidence at the trial by prosecutors showed that Ingram’s car had already struck one vehicle on Dry Creek Road before the fatal collision south of Dry Creek Road. The jury’s verdict also reflected the panel’s belief that Ingram was impaired on the sedative sleep aid Ambien when the crash occurred.

The jury disregarded Ingram’s testimony on the witness stand that he accidentally took the Ambien thinking it was his blood-pressure medication.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Lopez argued successfully that Ingram’s claims at trial were nothing more that a smoke-screen to obscure responsibility for the deaths of the two teens.

Jared and Trevor were close friends since their days at E.V. Cain Middle School in Auburn and with the Placer High School Junior Hillmen football program. Trevor grew up in the Auburn area and Jared moved to the community with his family in 2012.

Lopez said in a statement released by the Placer County District Attorney’s Office that many people realize the dangers of drinking alcohol and driving. Ingram, in fact, was convicted of driving under the influence in April 2000.

“They too often forget that driving on prescription medication, like the Ambien in this case, can has the same tragic results,” Lopez said. “Mr. Ingram’s failure to respect this fact cost two families — and our community — two loved and wonderful children.”