Man Almost Killed Girlfriend After Hallucinating Bear Attack While on MDMA

By McCarton Ackerman 06/27/14

Lucas Gingras convinced Ladonna Merriman to jump off a 70 foot cliff to avoid the bear.

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A Vermont man has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder after urging his girlfriend to jump off a cliff in a drug-induced haze, because he believed that a bear was allegedly trying to attack them.

Prosecutors say that Lucas Gingras, 28, took MDMA and spiked the drink of girlfriend Ladonna Merriman, 44, with the same substance while on a camping trip in the town of Milton. The couple had already smoked pot and did cocaine beforehand. He initially told police that their cabin was set on fire after a camp stove was knocked over during a bear attack. However, he later recanted his story and said that the MDMA caused him to hallucinate that a bear was about to attack him, so he set the cabin on fire and fled with Merriman.

Still convinced that the bear was on the prowl, he convinced Merriman to jump off a cliff to escape. She plummeted 70 feet to the ground, falling through trees, and sustaining injuries that included a broken back and punctured lung. Gingras dragged Merriman’s body to the front seat of his car, nearly a mile away and tried to get help from a friend. When the friend arrived with a rifle, Gingras took it and began shooting the trunk of the car while insisting that the bear was inside.

Currently sporting a neck brace from his own injuries, Gingras is being held on $100,000 bond. He faces several other charges, including attempted first-degree arson, first-degree domestic assault and reckless endangerment, as well as possible additional federal gun charges. He could receive 35 years to life in prison if convicted on all charges. Merriman is currently receiving treatment at a local hospital, but is expected to make a full recovery.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.