Lengthy investigation expected for wrong-way crash that killed 5

At-fault driver’s wife says she thinks crash was unintentional.

“Our crash investigators continue to work on this tragic crash,” said Cara Zinski-Neace a Dayton Police Department spokeswoman. “It’s very early in what will be a lengthy investigation.”

James Pohlabeln, a 61-year-old Dayton resident, drove south on I-75 northbound lanes from a unknown location, according to the traffic crash report obtained by this newspaper.

Pohlabeln was driving a Lincoln Town Car when he struck a Honda CR-V approximately 38 feet south of mile marker 54, according to the crash report. The SUV flipped on top of Pohlabeln’s car.

Four friends — Devin Bachmann, 26, of Huber Heights; Kyle Canter, 23, of New Carlisle; Earl Miller II, 27, of New Carlisle, and Vashti Nicole Brown, 29, of Dayton — were in the SUV. Bachmann, Canter and Miller were members of Counterflux — a hard rock band.

Both drivers and the SUV passengers died at the scene, according to police.

Police believe Pohlabeln was driving under the influence of alcohol on Saturday. The crash report indicates he was given a blood test, but the results are unknown at this time.

According police, the same sedan was also reported going the wrong way on Ohio 4, southbound in the northbound lanes, before the fatal crash on I-75 that caused the highway to close for about five hours.

Saturday’s crash was the second time in less than 48 hours Pohlabeln was involved in a suspected drunken driving incident, according to court records. He was arrested on Thursday on a drunken driving charge in Dayton.

After Pohlabeln pleaded not guilty in municipal court, a judge released him on his own recognizance, according to court records. He was released from jail around 7 p.m. Thursday.

The court suspended Pohlabeln’s license.

Pohlabeln threatened to take his own life three months ago, however, his wife Marcia Pohlabeln said she believed Saturday’s crash was unintentional.

“I saw him on Thursday before he got his DUI, and he was fine,” she said.

According to court records, Pohlabeln threatened to kill himself in November. His wife called police after he sent her text messages that said “he wanted the police to kill him,” according to records obtained from the Dayton Police Department.

Police searched locations Pohlabeln frequented and checked the motel where he was staying, but they were unable to locate him in November.

The weekend crash occurred two months after the couple reconciled, according to his wife. They had been together for more than a decade. Divorce papers were filed with the court last year, and James Pohlabeln moved out; however, he moved back into their home on Dec. 25, according to his wife.

“He was a good man,” she said.

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