Drugged driving is being investigated as a factor in multiple recent crashes, including one early Wednesday and another on Monday that took the life of an innocent driver.
State troopers confirmed a driver overdosed Wednesday morning and crashed into a tree line along southbound Interstate 75 south of Ohio 725 in Miami Twp.
A Miami Twp. officer reportedly broke the driver’s side window and administered three doses of Narcan — the opioid overdose antidote — to revive the driver.
State troopers took the driver into custody and said an overdose is believed to be the only factor in the crash.
On Monday, officers used Narcan on Jordan Anthony Russell Harville after the 24-year-old allegedly stole pickup in Miami County and led police on a high speed chase that resulted in the death of Anthony Hufford, 28, of Englewood.
When the chase entered Montgomery County, the pickup driven by Harville, who used heroin during the chase and called himself a “dope fiend,” plowed into a car pulling out of a driveway. Hufford, the car’s driver, was pronounced dead at the scene.
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.
Earlier this month, police reportedly administered Narcan to a driver involved in a crash on northbound Interstate 75 on March 7. Reports indicated Tipp City police and state troopers found the driver’s vehicle slammed into a wall just north of the Ohio 571 exit to Tipp City.
A drug overdose is also being investigated as a possible factor in a single-vehicle crash that critically injured two people on West Third Street in Dayton on March 6.
Investigators found evidence in the vehicle suggesting a drug overdose might have been a contributing factor in the crash, according to Dayton police Lt. Mark Ponichtera.
Police and medics found an SUV slammed into a pole near South Decker Avenue with two occupants trapped inside at about 11:45 p.m.
Overdoses – fueled by the opioid crisis – continue to take a tremendous number of lives in the state and region.
Drug overdoses took the lives of 3050 Ohioans during 2015, the last year for which complete data are available.
The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office reports drug overdoses took 349 lives in the county during 2016, the most ever recorded in a year and a 35 percent increase over 2015.
The county has recorded more than 150 overdoses this year, a number that would put the county on pace for more deaths in 2017.
The escalating number of overdose deaths in the Dayton area has forced the local coroner’s office to take drastic measures, including contracting with a local funeral home late last year to store bodies.
“So far, it’s happened only once, but we have plans in place if we need to outsource some storage again,” said Montgomery County Coroner Kent Harshbarger.