Seth Dix's blood sugar level was plummeting when he screamed through a Santa Rosa crosswalk Jan. 4, nearly killing a man in his car's path.
His lawyer says Dix remembers nothing - that while not passed out, he was not truly conscious when he struck Santa Rosa resident Ken Rossi, shattering Rossi's pelvis, femur and face, and causing permanent orthopedic damage and brain injury. Rossi, blind, was crossing in his wheelchair.
In a person with diabetes, like Dix, hypoglycemia can cause confusion, impaired judgment and lack of coordination beginning with a blood sugar as high as 65 or 60 milligrams per deciliter. Much lower than 20, there can be seizures, even unconsciousness. Dix's was at 23 about 40 minutes after he hit Rossi.
Attorney Jonathan Steele said Dix doesn't remember smashing into Rossi, nor does he recall driving on down the road until flashing headlights prompted him to pull to the side, where an off-duty probation officer told him he'd mowed someone down in the crosswalk.
Precisely what Dix knew, or should have known, will be a key issue today when a preliminary hearing is held to determine if Dix should to go to trial on felony charges.
Rossi nearly bled to death in the street, and the months that followed were a blur of pain, swelling and surgeries needed first to save his life, then to repair his crushed body.
Despite 62 days of hospitalization at a cost of more than $1 million, Rossi, 41, says he bears no anger toward Dix. He says he's not seeking revenge.
"I do want some justice," he said, "and I'm just kind of letting the court decide what it should be."
The District Attorney's office thinks Dix, 34, is guilty at least of fleeing the scene of an accident.
After charging him with misdemeanor hit-and-run in January, prosecutors upgraded the charges to felonies in April to reflect the severity of Rossi's injuries. A conviction carries a possible 4-year prison term.
"I think the evidence tends to show that he knew or should have known that he struck somebody in a wheelchair," Deputy District Attorney Karina Kowler said, alluding to undisclosed circumstantial evidence she says supports her case.