Firefighter: Life of driver charged with murder in wrong-way crash that killed Mason family was saved at scene

Credit: MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL

Credit: MONTGOMERY COUNTY JAIL

Life-saving efforts at the scene helped save the driver now charged with murder in the wrong-way Interstate-75 wreck that killed three Warren County family members, a firefighter testified Friday.

Moraine firefighter/paramedic Derek Montgomery also described how Abby Michaels’ vomit had a distinct odor of alcohol shortly after the March 17, 2019, head-on crash that killed husband and wife Timmy and Karen Thompson, and their 10-year-old daughter Tessa, all of Mason.

Montgomery was the lone witness Friday in a hearing to suppress evidence in the case against Michaels, 22, formerly of Xenia.

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After failed attempts to increase Michaels’ breathing by sticking tubes in her nose, Montgomery said he and his medic partner made “a last-ditch effort” to resuscitate Michaels while she lay unconscious on the highway shortly after 8 p.m. that night.

Montgomery said “a very uncommon procedure” similar to a tracheotomy was performed on Michaels. A surgical blade was used to cut a hole in her throat and a tube inserted to help her breathe.

“We got the tube in and were able to get that placed and secured,” and used a bag “to breathe for her – to basically inflate her lungs using supplemental oxygen,” he said.

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A medical helicopter later arrived and took Michaels to the hospital, Montgomery said.

Attorneys for Michaels are seeking to suppress statements, police officers’ observations, and blood and urine samples taken after the wreck.

Michaels was deliberately driving northbound in the southbound lanes of I-75, authorities said. She was indicted in July 2019 on six counts of murder, six counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

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The hearing began with one day of testimony in late April and resumed Friday. It will continue on a date to be named with what is expected to be one defense witness – a blood expert – should that person become available, Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Dankof said.

While working on Michaels, Montgomery said she vomited into a tube, “not uncommon” in such instances.

It was “a frothy-type liquid and it had a positive odor of ethyl alcohol,” which he noted in records using a common professional shorthand, Montgomery said.

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The fluid has a “very unique odor ... it was obvious. That’s how I would describe it,” he added.

On cross-examination, Montgomery said he could not attribute a level of intoxication based on the odor.

But he “never documents an odor unless it’s an (ethyl alcohol) odor. Because if it’s (food), I don’t care. It’s not significant.”

Former Moraine Police Officer Steven Harrison in late April testified he entered Michaels’ car without a warrant after the wreck because he was seeking information to help keep the unconscious driver from dying.

Harrison said “it was urgent and we were trying to save her life.”

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Harrison said he didn’t take anything from Michaels’ vehicle, but saw in a purse her identification and a Fireball container, which he described as a cinnamon flavored whiskey. The container had dried, brown remnants, he said.

After Michaels was taken to the hospital, a warrant was issued to draw her blood, Harrison said.

A nurse testified in April the blood was drawn about 12:50 a.m. That was outside of the three-hour time frame blood can legally be withdrawn in such cases, defense attorney Jay Adams has said in court filings.

Michaels has remained in the Montgomery County Jail on a $3 million bond since shortly after the indictment.

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