02/09/2007 1:00AM

Norman's lawyer: Tests show painkiller present


Preliminary blood tests taken from trainer Cole Norman, who on Monday afternoon was involved in a head-on car accident that resulted in the death of an 86-year-old woman in Hot Springs, Ark., show that prescription pain medication was present in his system at the time of the accident, according to Jamie Pratt, a Camden, Ark., attorney representing Norman.

"He was not under the influence of alcohol or any illegal substance," said Pratt.

Norman, 38, broke his neck in an all-terrain vehicle accident in December 2005.

Pratt received the test results from a local hospital. Additional tests are being conducted at the Arkansas Crime Lab.

The accident on Monday occurred on Highway 7 South. According to an accident report, Norman, while negotiating a curve in his Cadillac Escalade, crossed the center line and hit a Ford Explorer driven by Heath. She died three hours later at St. Joseph Hospital in Hot Springs.

"He said he apparently had fallen asleep at the wheel," said Pratt.

Norman was traveling from his home near Shreveport, La., to Hot Springs, where he has a stable at Oaklawn Park.

The Arkansas State Police are investigating the accident, according to police Capt. Mike Fletcher. He said that no charges have been filed at this time. Norman on Friday was in Bossier City, La., with his wife, Tamara, and his two children, said Pratt.

"He's doing as well as can be expected," said Pratt. "He's very saddened and very upset by the death of Mrs. Heath."

Heath's mother, Ilarea, was the older sister of Roger Clinton Sr., the first stepfather of Bill Clinton, according to an article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

According to an obituary from Caruth-Hale Funeral Home in Hot Springs, Heath was one of the first women to be named Miss Hot Springs. She helped operate Crawford Drug Stores and later owned Lake Liquor. Her funeral was to be held Saturday.

Norman is a six-time leading trainer at Oaklawn, where after a slow start this year he won three races on Thursday. The horses were saddled by his assistant, Jorge Lara.