A driver involved in a two-vehicle crash that shut down the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 in Clayton for nearly two hours Thursday night admitted to using fentanyl earlier in the evening, troopers said.
It is the latest traffic accident involving a driver allegedly impaired by opioids.
The driver, identified as Jeremy Hembree, 32, was booked into Montgomery County Jail after the crash.
Troopers said a suspected drug found at the scene will be sent to the crime lab for testing.
Hembree, who is from New Paris, will be charged with OVI and possession of drugs, troopers said. Hembree was driving with a suspended license.
Drug-impaired driving has for the first time surpassed drunk-driving as the leading factor in fatal crashes, according to a report issued earlier this year by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.
About 43 percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a legal or illegal drug, the report said, surpassing the 37 percent who tested above the legal limit for alcohol, according to the report.
RELATED: Driving while high: Drugs are possible factors in more recent crashes
Drugged driving crashes in Ohio increased 25 percent from 2012 through 2016, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation. There were 3,574 drugged driving crashes in 2016, which accounted for about 33 percent of all impaired driving crashes, according to state crash statistics.
Recent incidents locally include:
- Jordan Harville, 25, of Clayton pleaded guilty on Aug. 4 to three felony counts Miami County Common Pleas Court in the death of Anthony Hufford, 28, of Englewood. Harville struck Hufford's vehicle on North Dixie Drive in Harrison Twp. during a pursuit that began in Miami County. Authorities said Harville told them he had used heroin.
- In March a driver overdosed and crashed into a tree line along southbound Interstate 75 south of Ohio 725 in Miami Twp. He was revived with Narcan.
- Also in March, police revived another driver with Narcan after a his vehicle crashed into a wall on Interstate 75 near Tipp City.
RELATED: Clayton man pleads guilty in pursuit crash that killed Englewood man
Sgt. Matt Robinson of the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Dayton post said Thursday’s accident, which happened around 7:40 p.m. just before the Ohio 49 Greenville exit, involved a gold Chrysler Town and Country minivan and another vehicle.
“It looks like one of the drivers is impaired on drugs,” Robinson said. “He was not injured and was driving the minivan.”
The minivan driver “did admit to narcotics use prior in the evening,” the sergeant said.
Robinson also said contraband was found in the car and that the drug “appears to be an opiate of some kind.”
The driver of the other vehicle was taken to a hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, Robinson said.
A witness, Kevin Crank of Richmond, said he was helping people in a disabled vehicle off to the shoulder on I-70 when the gold minivan moved past him at high speed. Traffic up ahead was slowing because of a construction zone, Crank said.
RELATED: Overdoses force coroner to use funeral home to store bodies
He said the minivan hit the other vehicle “full force, about 75 to 80 miles an hour.”
Crank said he ran to the accident and helped the driver of the vehicle that had been hit. The man had some cuts, but seemed OK, Crank said.
“The impact… sounded like a bomb going off… It was the worst sound I’ve ever heard in my life.”
Crank said he is glad he was in a position to help.
“And I’m thankful that guy (whose vehicle was struck) is alive,” he said.
RELATED: Opioid reversal drugs being used as precaution at crash scenes'
Staff reporterChris Stewart contributed to this report.
Overdose deaths in Montgomery County took a significant dip in July for the first time this year. On Sunday reporter Lynn Hulsey takes a look at local initiatives attacking drug addiction.
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