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Deputies: Man driving farm tractor drunk, caused crash

Daniel Pearson

Daniel Pearson (Photo: Photo provided)

HARTFORD CITY, Ind. — Authorities said a rural Hartford City man was intoxicated when he was operating a farm tractor involved in a crash on Ind. 18.

Daniel G. Pearson, 48, is charged in Blackford Circuit Court with two counts of driving while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury.

He was arrested Jan. 12 after his westbound John Deere tractor crossed the center line on Ind. 18, near Blackford County Road 350-W, and collided with an eastbound Ram pickup truck.

Hartford City firefighters had to extract the driver from the truck, which came to rest in a ditch. He was taken by ambulance to IU Health Blackford Hospital, and later transferred to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie.   

The driver told deputies he had lost consciousness after his vehicle was struck by the tractor.

The crash was reported about 6:20 p.m. Witnesses told investigators the tractor was traveling without its headlights on. Authorities said the tractor also had no flashing amber or red lights, and also lacked a slow-moving vehicle emblem required by law.

Witnesses also said they saw Pearson remove cans of beer from the tractor and place them in a nearby field.

Ford creates suit to simulate effects of driving with hangover

NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 12: Porsche Cars North America Chief Executive Officer Klaus Zellmer introduces the 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 at the New York International Auto Show, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on April 12, 2017 in Manhattan, New York. (Photo by Eduardo MunozAlvarez/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images)

Everyone knows about the imminent dangers of distracted driving – especially drunk driving. But getting behind the wheel the morning after a night out may be just as dangerous.

Ford is showcasing its “hangover suit,” which simulates the symptoms of a hangover, to test out just how dangerous hungover driving is compared to other distraction factors.

FOX Business’ Grady Trimble tried the suit on Tuesday as he took a ride at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

The suit is designed with features that simulate a hangover, according to Ford Driving Skills for Life program manager Nolan Katerberg. This includes bright light to simulate light sensitivity, about 45 pounds of body weights and double-vision goggles.

“The message behind this whole entire suit is not to drive impaired,” Katerberg said. “Some people might party the night before and think the next day they’ve slept it off. But really, it shows that there are still effects out there.”

Ford wants to get the message out there about driving impaired as the holiday’s approach.

“One-third of the fatalities of all the car crashes are still due to drunk driving,” he said. “The holiday season, Christmas, New Year’s, people are driving. We want to make sure you make the right decision before you drive.”

Ford also offers their Driving Skills for Life program where they utilize the suit to teach teens about driving under the influence.

While Grady tested the suit on the driving course, the impact a hangover has on coordination was evident.

“If you saw all the cones I hit, I think you would get the message loud and clear,” Grady said.

Police officer dies after fellow cop crashes while driving intoxicated, IL cops say

A police officer in Illinois has been charged with a DUI after her passenger — also an officer — was killed following a crash on Sunday, police say.

Officer Charles Schauer, 33, with the Berwyn Police Department was a passenger in a 2019 Dodge Durango driven by Erin Zilka, 35, when it crashed into the back of a box truck near Plainfield around 6 a.m., WBBM reported.

The box truck and a pickup had crashed earlier in the day and were stopped in the right two lanes of traffic, according to the outlet.

Schauer was killed, WGN reported. Both officers were off-duty.

Zilka — an officer with Joliet police — was taken to the hospital for minor injuries, then arrested and charged with driving under the influence, according to the outlet.

She also was charged with driving “too fast for the conditions,” WBBM reported.

Erin Zilka, 35, was arrested and charged with a DUI after police say the car she was driving crashed into a box truck, killing a passenger in Illinois.
Erin Zilka, 35, was arrested and charged with a DUI after police say the car she was driving crashed into a box truck, killing a passenger in Illinois.

Zilka’s lawyer says her blood alcohol test came in under the legal limit, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“She’s absolutely devastated to a degree I can’t express verbally,” her attorney, Jeff Tomczak, told the newspaper.

Zilka was released on bond, and Joliet police say they’ve opened an internal investigation into the incident, WGN reported.

Schauer was a 10-year veteran at the Berwyn Police Department and a “well-respected” officer,” the department said in a Facebook post.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schauer family during this time of need,” the post said.

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Police officer specializes in recognizing drivers under the influence of prescription drugs

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Most people associate a DWI with driving under the influence of alcohol. What many don’t know, prescription drugs can also fall under that category. The Hot Springs Police Department has three drug recognition experts for those situations.

The signs on the road are the same.

“Left of center, no headlights, speeding, impeding traffic,” Hot Springs Police Officer First Class Shawn Lowrey said.

This leads an officer to pull the person over. They’ll first check for the smell of alcohol or marijuana then put them through a field sobriety test. Let’s say this person does poorly on the test but there’s no smell, and the breath test comes back zero.

“Then we can take them into custody,” Lowrey said.

That’s where Lowrey is brought in. He’s a Drug Recognition Expert and is on call for these kinds of situations. He’ll put you through the same sobriety test, plus a few more.

“Including finger to nose, and a balance test along with checking their pupil size, their blood pressure and their temperature and asking quite a bit of questions,” Lowrey said.

From there, he’s able to figure out what drug category the person is in. The two worst are Opiods and CNS Depressants. Officer Lowrey says what many people don’t know is that these kinds of prescriptions can have the same or even worse effects than alcohol.

“It does affect your vision, your time, distance management,” Lowrey said.

He wants to stress, it doesn’t matter if you got it from your doctor or not, driving while intoxicated is still against the law.

Officer Lowrey is called in to help other law enforcement agencies with drug enforcement. He also teaches a DRE class to get other officers certified.

Major League Baseball removes marijuana from the list of banned substances

Major League Baseball has removed marijuana from the list of Drugs of Abuse under its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The change occurred as a result of negotiations with the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Baseball will continue to test for opioids, fentanyl, cocaine, and synthetic THC.

Major League Baseball will now treat “marijuana-related conduct” in the same way that it treats “alcohol-related conduct,” which presumably includes the penalties for driving a vehicle while under the influence.

This development will increase public pressure on the NFL to follow suit, but the NFL has shown no inclination to unilaterally remove marijuana from the substance-abuse policy. The league has pointed out, on numerous occasions, that it’s a subject of collective bargaining. Which means that, if the NFL Players Association wants marijuana to be removed from the substance-abuse policy, the NFLPA needs to make a concession.

And the NFLPA won’t. Because the NFLPA realizes that it’s currently very easy to navigate the annual testing program under the substance-abuse policy. Only a small percentage of players end up being fined or suspended for marijuana use. A much larger percentage of players surely smoke all season long, knowing that if they simply stop by the middle of March (given that it takes roughly a month to clear the metabolites from the system) and refrain until the give their annual sample for testing (the testing window opens, coincidentally, on 4/20), they will have no problems.

Problems can still arise if players are arrested for marijuana possession in a state where it’s illegal, or if a player is charged with driving under the influence of marijuana. Still, players who are smart and prudent can smoke for up to 11 months of the year, without incident.

For the NFLPA, the question becomes what it is worth to essentially gain the ability to smoke marijuana for an extra month? At this point, not nearly enough to get the NFL to agree to remove marijuana from the list of banned substances.