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Ambien Found In Kerry Kennedy's Blood After Accident

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- New details emerged Wednesday about what caused Kerry Kennedy's hit-and-run crash.

When we last saw Kennedy, the ex-wife of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, she had just pleaded not guilty to a DUI charge after a July 11 accident on Interstate 684. At the time, she told reporters that neurological tests "led my doctors to believe that this accident was caused not by a sleeping aid, but by a complex partial seizure."

"My doctor says this is the only seizure I've ever had."

But, as CBS 2's Sean Hennessey found out on Wednesday, court documents filed by investigators showed trace amounts of the drug found in Ambien. Kennedy told police she may have confused the drug with her thyroid medication, which were "next to each other on the counter."

"There are variations of both thyroid medication and Ambien that can look very much alike. That's why you have to be very careful," CBS 2's Dr. Max Gomez said.

Gomez said those taking Ambien, a sleeping pill, need eight hours before operating heavy machinery, like a car.

"It can impair your judgment. It can impair your reaction time, and in that regard, it's very much like other drugs or medications, that you should never be driving under the influence," Dr. Gomez said.

Kennedy was found along the road slumped over the wheel of her car. She had just clipped a semi truck but she didn't pull over until her car became disabled. Police took her to Northern Westchester Hospital for blood tests.

There was no answer at Kennedy's Mount Kisco home on Wednesday night. Earlier, she released a statement saying a state police drug expert told her she didn't appear to be under the influence of drugs. Kennedy says that's why she received neurological tests:

"Moments after the accident occurred, I told police that it was possible that I may have inadvertently taken a sleep aid instead of my daily thyroid medication.

"The police breathalyzer and the Northern Westchester Hospital blood and urine tests came back negative for alcohol, prescription, and recreational drugs in my system. The State Police drug recognition expert, who was at the accident scene, said that in his opinion, I was "not under the influence of a narcotic and might have suffered a medical condition while driving."

"Therefore, I thought it prudent to pursue other possible explanations for the accident. After extensive neurological tests, my doctors at Mount Sinai concluded that a partial seizure could have caused the accident.

"The results we received today from the Westchester County lab showed trace amounts of a sleep aid in my system, so it now appears that my first instinct was correct.

"I am deeply sorry to all those I endangered that day, and am enormously grateful for the support I have received over the past two weeks."

Kennedy faces a fine, loss of driving privileges and possible jail time if convicted. The judge also ordered Kennedy to be evaluated by a state agency that will monitor her treatments.

Kennedy separated from Cuomo in 2003. They divorced in 2005 and have three daughters.

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