A blood sample taken in the hours after a fatal motorcycle accident last year at County Road 466 and Rolling Acres Road won’t be admissible in a criminal case against a man charged in the case.
A previous arrest affidavit had indicated Bryan Barnash, 59, of Clermont, had been riding a Harley-Davidson tricycle on the night of May 14, 2016 when the crash occurred, killing his live-in girlfriend, 58-year-old Diane Lanthier, who had been riding as a passenger. Lanthier and Barnash were airlifted from the scene to Ocala Regional Medical Center. Neither of them had been wearing helmets. She died a few days later from injuries suffered in the crash. A blood test revealed Barnash’s blood alcohol level had been .159 on the night of the accident, according to documents previously filed in the case.
However, an agreement to suppress the blood sample was approved by a judge earlier this month in Lake County Court.
An Ocala police officer had been dispatched that night to collect a blood draw from Barnash at the hospital. A paramedic took the blood sample and turned it over to the officer.
Now the prosecutor’s office and Barnash’s attorney have agreed that there were “no objective facts” that police would have had that night to lead them to believe that Barnash had been driving the motorcycle.
With his DUI manslaughter case pending in Lake County Court, Barnash is also locked in a legal battle with Lanthier’s mother, Theresa Fioretti of New Jersey, over the payout of Lanthier’s life insurance policy. Lanthier had been employed by Hunton Brady Architects PA and was covered under the company’s group life insurance through Sun Life. She had designated Barnash as her sole primary beneficiary and had named her mother as her sole secondary beneficiary in the event Barnash predeceased her.
Barnash submitted a claim on June 1, 2016 seeking the life insurance payout. On June 9, 2016 he was charged in Lanthier’s death. Her mother subsequently challenged Barnash’s entitlement to the benefit. Sun Life filed its own claim, indicating that it will be incurring legal fees as it attempts to sort out the dispute in court.
In a deposition in March of this year in the life insurance case, when pressed by an attorney, Barnash said he drank two beers in The Villages on the day of the accident. He said he had been at his cousin’s vacation rental in The Villages and drank a beer at 3 p.m. and another beer at 7 p.m. The accident occurred shortly after 9 p.m.
In that deposition, Barnash claimed he has had memory problems since the accident.
He also denied he has a drinking problem and described himself as someone who drank “at 5 p.m. Friday” or would have a beer after cutting the grass.
Barnash remains free on bond.
Lake County Court records also indicate that Barnash had been issued an eviction notice earlier this year involving the manufactured home he shared with Lanthier.