DUI News

Deputy police chief resigns after OVI traffic stop, nearly hits 2 cruisers

Tipp City Deputy Chief of Police Stephanie Slepicka

Tipp City’s deputy chief of police resigned Wednesday evening after she was placed on leave amid impaired driving allegations.

Stephanie Slepicka, 43, was stopped in Troy early Wednesday in her personal vehicle while she was off duty, said Tipp City Police Chief Greg Adkins.

In a statement released Thursday, the police chief said he spoke with Slepicka regarding the incident.

“She was remorseful for the events that transpired, and she showed professionalism for the community and department in her decision to resign,” the statement read. “I appreciate her years of service to the community and wish her all the best.

The chief earlier Wednesday evening referred further questions about the stop to the Troy Police Department, but issued the following statement:

“Following an initial review of materials provided by the Troy Police Department regarding Tipp City Police Department Deputy Chief of Police Stephanie Slepicka’s alleged violation of operating a vehicle impaired and possession of weapons while intoxicated, there is sufficient evidence to support a thorough administrative investigation into the matter. Effective immediately, Deputy Chief Slepicka is on paid administrative leave. She will remain on paid administrative leave until the inquiry is completed and the level of disciplinary action taken against her is decided.

Slepicka nearly struck a West Milton police cruiser at 12:40 a.m. Wednesday while driving a Dodge Ram 2500 the wrong way on West Market Street, according to a Troy police report.

Officer Chance Setters said he was on the way back to West Milton, headed west on West Market Street crossing Barnhart Road when he spotted the Ram driving on the wrong side of the road and median toward him.

“To avoid the truck I had to hard brake and swerve right toward the ditch,” Setters stated.

The officer then flagged down Troy police officer Cody Compton, who was driving in his direction, and told him about the wrong-way driver.

Compton drove east on West Market Street to try to find the truck and saw it go over the Interstate 75 overpass, in the correct direction, before the officer had to stop for a red light.

However, once the light turned green Compton said he saw headlights coming toward him, traveling on the wrong side of the road.

“The Dodge Ram continued straight toward me as I activated my overhead lights. The Dodge Ram swerved to my left to avoid hitting me and continued eastbound on the wrong side of the road,” Compton stated.

After turning around and following the truck for a short time the driver, identified as Slepicka, stopped.

Compton described her speech to be slurred, her eyes glassy and “she had delayed responses to questions and was not making sense with some answers,” the report stated.

She was placed under arrest on suspicion of OVI and issued a citation for driving on the wrong side of the road. She also was charged with possessing a weapon while intoxicated and improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle after police said they found a loaded pistol and three magazines in her purse.

Slepicka was sworn in July 19 to the deputy chief role, according to Tipp City council meeting records.

DUI News

Attorney General’s Office issues OWI charges against former County Undersheriff

Former Undersheriff Jeff Warder poses in front of a cruiser Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017 to promote the Trunk or Treat event run by the sheriff's department.

Criminal charges have been filed against former Livingston County Undersheriff Jeffrey Warder more than two months after he was arrested for driving under the influence. 

Warder was arrested Oct. 26 after a Michigan State Police trooper pulled him over on D-19.

“The trooper noted he looked intoxicated and could smell alcohol in the car,” the Michigan Attorney General’s Office said in a press release. 

According to officials, Warder consented to a breath test on scene, which resulted in a preliminary blood alcohol content of 0.123.

A blood test was later drawn and reflected a blood alcohol content of 0.133, according to the release. 

Warder resigned from the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office on Nov. 1 following his arrest. A special prosecutor was requested by the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office to handle the case. 

He faces one count of operating while intoxicated and one count of alcohol- open container in a vehicle. Both are misdemeanors punishable between 90-93 days in jail and/or community service. 

Warder is scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 19.

DUI News

High Court Rules EMTs Can Draw Blood for DWI Investigations

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Thursday that emergency room technicians are allowed to draw blood for DWI investigations.

The ruling was for a case that came from San Juan County where an “emergency department technician,” also licensed as an emergency medical technician, took blood samples at San Juan Medical Center in Farmington for a DWI investigation.

The case was one of six with similar happenings. The defendants argued that under the state Implied Consent Act, emergency department technicians were not qualified to draw blood. The defendant in this case, Brian Adams, cited a statute that states “only a doctor, a nurse, and some technicians” are permitted to take blood samples in DWI investigations, according to KRQE.

While the district court ruled in Adam’s favor, the state appealed to the New Mexico Court of Appeals, saying the individual in question should be permitted to draw blood based on the medical professional’s training, experience, and employment, KRQE reported.

The Court of Appeals reversed the district’s ruling, prompting Adams to request the Supreme Court review the decision, the Office of the Attorney General said in a news release, according to KRQE.

New Mexico, Ruling, EMTs, Blood Samples
The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld the earlier decision from the appellate court that as long as they were employed to do so by a hospital or physician and have proper training and experience, emergency medical technicians are qualified to draw blood under the statute.

Attorney General Hector Balderas said Friday that the decision codifies a common-sense notion that experienced EMTs are qualified to draw blood from suspected drunken drivers. He added that the ruling supports the Legislature’s intent to allow for valid blood draws to be used as evidence in DWI investigations and prosecutions.

The Supreme Court said the Legislature’s intended purpose encompassed two goals: to protect patients subject to a blood draw and to ensure the collection of a reliable blood sample for use in DWI prosecutions. Rejecting the defendants’ narrow interpretation of who is authorized to draw blood, the court said requiring a technician to have explicit laboratory experience would not achieve lawmakers’ goals.

New Mexico has made progress over the decades on curbing intoxicated driving, having dropped out of the top 10 worst states for the number of DWI fatalities per 100,000 in 2008.

The latest data shows there have been just over 100 fatalities resulting from alcohol-involved crashes so far this year. That’s notably less than the previous two years.

DUI News

DUI suspected in crash into pole, car, police say

DUI suspected in northwest Fresno crash into pole, car, police say

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A suspected DUI driver caused a crash in northwest Fresno on Wednesday, according to the Fresno Police Department.

The incident took place shortly after 2:15 p.m. in the area of Shaw and Feland avenues.

Officers say a man driving a pickup truck on Shaw Avenue was traveling faster than the flow of traffic, braked hard suddenly, went sideways into a car, took out a pole, and ended up on its side.

The 56-year-old driver was cited and released at the scene for DUI. No serious injuries were reported.

DUI News

Katie Price ‘incredibly sorry’ for her actions after being spared jail for drunk driving

Katie Price arrives at Crawley Magistrates' Court in West Sussex to be sentenced for drink-driving. Picture date: Wednesday December 15, 2021.
Katie Price was given a 16-week suspended jail sentence. (PA)

Katie Price has said she’s “incredibly sorry” for her actions after being given a 16-week suspended jail sentence following her drink-driving arrest.

The reality star, 43, crashed her car in West Sussex in September and was sentenced this week, with district judge Amanda Kelly saying she “could have easily killed somebody”.

Breaking her silence on Instagram, Price apologised and said she was so grateful that nobody was hurt in the accident.

She told fans she was now spending time getting better and dealing with her mental health.

The star received a suspended jail sentence. (Katie Price Instagram)
The star received a suspended jail sentence. (Katie Price Instagram)

She wrote on her Instagram Story: “I would like to thank my family – my children, my mum, dad, sister, brother, my partner Carl, Leigh, and my friends who have supported me throughout these past few months.

“It’s been a really difficult time and I’m incredibly sorry for my actions – I’m sincerely grateful nobody was hurt – I realise the damage my actions could have caused not only to another family, but to my own as well.”

The star has apologised. (Katie Price Instagram)
The star has apologised. (Katie Price Instagram)

Price went on: “I’m now spending time getting better – mental health is a hidden illness and can strike at any time.

“The triggers that cause my anxiety and behaviour are something I’m trying to understand, come to terms with, and learn to control moving forward.

“This will be a long process for myself and something I’ll continue to work on for the rest of my life.

Katie Price thanked fans for their support. (Katie Price Instagram)
Katie Price thanked fans for their support. (Katie Price Instagram)

“It’s also something I can work on with my family so we can progress on a new chapter together.”

The mum-of-five thanked her fans for all the “messages of goodwill” that she had received.

Katie Price with Carl Woods leaving Crawley Magistrates' Court in West Sussex after she was handed a 16-week suspended jail sentence for drink-driving while disqualified and without insurance following a crash near her home in Sussex. The former glamour model, 43, was also banned from driving for two years over the collision on the B2135 near Partridge Green on September 28. Picture date: Wednesday December 15, 2021.
Katie Price leaving Crawley Magistrates’ Court with Carl Woods. (PA)

“I’m going to surround myself with my loving family and friends and continue doing the work I love as it brings me enjoyment and helps my mental health,” she said.

DUI News

Man sentenced after ‘scene out of the Wild West,’ including throwing boulder at two men, stomping on victims’ heads as they lay unconscious

A 27-year-old New Bedford man was sentenced to serve 4 to 5 years in state prison after what looked like a “scene of out the Wild West,” Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn described.

Christian Guerrero pleaded guilty in Fall River Superior Court to two counts of assault and battery with serious bodily injury, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, one count each of assault with a dangerous weapon and operating under the influence causing serious bodily injury.

Guerrero got into a fight with two male patrons at JC’s Cafe in Fall River in 2019, according to officials. The fight “ignited into a brawl that consumed the entire bar,” officials said, which was also captured on video surveillance.

At one point, Guerrero could be seen grabbing a bottle and throwing it at a female who, officials said, had already been knocked to the ground.

“The bottle exploded upon making contact with the woman’s head,” a statement read. “The defendant then kicked her while she was still on the ground.”

Guerrero then went outside where he saw the two males he first fought with.

“The defendant picked up a boulder which was being used as a doorstop. He then ran at one of the male victims and smashed the boulder over his head, knocking the victim out cold,” the statement read.

Officials said he then picked the boulder back up and threw it at the second male, “while that victim was lending aid to the first victim.” It missed the second person and Guerrero then charged him and kicked him the head.

“He then began to stomp on the heads of both male victims as they lay unconscious on the ground,” officials said.

When he tried to leave, Fall River Police were arriving on scene and blocking the exit to the cafe. Police said Guerrero drove up on the sidewalk to escape the scene. He only made it a few blocks before he “crashed his vehicle into a jersey barrier at a high rate of speed.” At this point, the district attorney said, he tried to run but was found a short time later.

Guerrero’s girlfriend was in the car and said he was highly intoxicated. She also shattered her wrist as a result of the crash.

“This is a scene out of the Wild West, with extraordinary acts of violence being committed by the defendant, the likes of which I have rarely seen,” Quinn said. “Through the grace of god no one was seriously injured or killed.”

DUI News

Family of Las Vegas bicyclist killed in crash files lawsuit

A year after five bicyclists were killed in a crash south of Las Vegas by an impaired truck driver, a family filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Donna Trauger, with son Thomas Trauger Jr. and daughter Sarah Woolsey, filed the lawsuit Monday against Jordan Barson, the truck driver sentenced in the crash, Barson’s employer, RoadRunner Transport AZ, and several corporations that partnered in leasing the truck to the company.

The lawsuit was also filed against David Merrill, an escort driver who joined the bicyclists to carry supplies in a 2019 Subaru Outback.

Donna Trauger’s husband, Tom Trauger, 57, was among seven bicyclists who rode behind the Subaru when Barson, who had nine times the legal limit of methamphetamine in his system, swerved onto the shoulder, pinning the bicyclists against the SUV. Erin Michelle Ray, 39, Gerrard Suarez Nieva, 41, Michael Todd Murray, 57, and Aksoy Ahmet, 48, also were killed.

The lawsuit showed Trauger and her children are represented by attorneys Robert and Tracy Eglet and Danielle Miller.

The attorneys argued Barson and the truck companies who allowed him to drive “owed a duty of care to the Decedent THOMAS C. TRAUGER, to operate their vehicles in a reasonable and safe manner,” the attorneys wrote. “Defendant, DAVID FRANKLIN MERRILL, breached his duty of care while operating the safety escort vehicle, a 2019 Subaru Outback, by, among other things, failing to properly follow Decedent THOMAS C. TRAUGER to ensure his visibility and safety.”

Trauger is seeking compensation from each of the 10 defendants for her grief and sorrow, her husband’s loss of life, loss of future earnings and funeral expenses.

Former Chief Deputy District Attorney Thomas Moskal, who prosecuted Barson, said body camera video from the Dec. 10, 2020, crash scene shows troopers missing signs that Barson was under the influence of meth.

Barson was sentenced in June to 16 to 40 years in prison.

Donna Trauger said Tuesday night that she could not talk about the case, but she said her goals haven’t changed over the past year: Do not let her husband’s death be meaningless.

“They lost their lives, and I don’t want that to go unnoticed, to go without meaning,” she said. “I care very much that there’s some justice.”

Attempts to reach defendants late Tuesday were unsuccessful.

DUI News

Carjacking victim escapes harm on interstate

Dec. 17—A motorist escaped harm Thursday when a Florida teen hijacked his truck on Interstate 65 north of Lebanon, Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Wesley Garst said.

Rolph Souffant, 19, Kissimmee, Fla., stole a vehicle in the Lafayette area and headed south into Boone County, where it broke down and he abandoned it near a construction area north of Lebanon, Garst said.

Tippecanoe County authorities had notified Boone County law enforcement that the stolen truck was headed their way just before 11:45 a.m.

Souffant left the stolen vehicle and barged into the truck of a man nearby, according to reports. He then drove the truck into a ditch, where it became mired, Garst said. Souffant dodged police by running between trucks, and through the construction area but eventually wore down and was arrested, according to dispatch records.

The truck driver left his vehicle before Souffant became stuck in the ditch and was unharmed, Garst said. The victim’s name and residence were not immediately available Friday.

Souffant admitted to having ingested a large quantity of medications and was taken to a hospital for treatment before being admitted into the Boone County Jail, Garst said.

He faces preliminary charges in Boone County of theft, resisting law enforcement, public intoxication, reckless driving, and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Tippecanoe County authorities may seek auto theft charges there, Garst said.

There were no reports of weapons involved in the apparent carjacking.

Lebanon and Thorntown police departments aided sheriff’s deputies.

“It’s great that we can all come together on these calls and have a successful outcome and everyone goes home safe with their families, especially this time of year,” Garst said.

DUI News

Pilot arrested for operating while intoxicated after small plane crash-lands

A small plane crashed near a subdivision in western St. Joseph County on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021
A small plane crashed near a subdivision in western St. Joseph County on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021

SOUTH BEND — Multiple police agencies are investigating the circumstances that led to a single-person plane crash-landing near the South Bend Motor Speedway on Monday.

The small, red aircraft crashed and came to a stop at the entrance of the Heather Ridge subdivision off of Grant Road in western St. Joseph County shortly before 4:40 p.m. on Monday.

The plane’s pilot was not injured and no homes or other property were damaged in the crash, according to a release from St. Joseph County police. Investigators with Indiana State Police and the Federal Aviation Administration were also alerted.

Doug Cunningham, who lives at the intersection of Grant Road and Wild Heather Drive, said he and his wife were in their backyard Monday afternoon when the crash occurred.

More: Plane makes emergency landing at South Bend airport

“We visually did not see it, but we definitively heard a very loud crash,” Cunningham said.

Thinking the sound was a car accident, Cunningham ran to his front yard to investigate.

“I went outside immediately and that’s when I saw this ultralight airplane crashed into a sign in our front yard,” he said. “The pilot was out walking around. I immediately asked my wife to call 911 and get first responders rolling. The pilot asked me not to call the police but that wasn’t an option. A plane crashes in your front yard, of course you’re going to call the police.”

Officials have not stated a reason for the crash, though Cunningham said the pilot indicated the engine in the plane had failed.

Police: Pilot showed signs of intoxication

A small aircraft crashed near a subdivision in western St. Joseph County on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021.
A small aircraft crashed near a subdivision in western St. Joseph County on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021.

Police say the pilot, a 61-year-old man from Mill Creek, Ind., failed a sobriety test and was arrested at the scene for operating while intoxicated. The Tribune generally does not name individuals who have not been formally charged with a crime.

The FAA defines an ultralight plane as an aircraft weighing under 254 pounds that can carry a single occupant. Beyond the weight limit, the FAA has set few requirements and does not mandate ultralight aircraft be registered or require a pilot’s license for those who fly them.

Residents near the site of Monday’s crash, however, say small aircraft need to be better regulated.

Cunningham said he’s lived in the Heather Ridge subdivision for three years and has seen multiple planes “buzz” the neighborhood as they fly into the nearby Chain-O-Lakes Airport, some coming “within feet” of hitting his roof.

“It’s asking for trouble buzzing residential areas in small craft like that. This crash proves, without a shadow of a doubt, that these planes pose a danger to our community,” Cunningham said.

He added that neighbors have seen the plane involved in Monday’s crash circling the area before, jokingly calling it “The Red Baron.”

A phone call to Chain-O-Lakes Airport was not immediately returned. Officials with the St. Joseph County Airport Authority declined to be interviewed and directed reporters to the FAA.

Brittany Trotter, a spokeswoman for the FAA, said the agency does not consider ultralight planes to be aircraft and is leaving the investigation of the incident to local law enforcement.

DUI News

School bus driver was drunk when she crashed with students on board, cops say

A Michigan school bus driver was arrested after crashing while intoxicated, police say. A school bus driver in Michigan was arrested after police say she crashed into a street sign while driving intoxicated. Officials say 30 to 40 students were on the bus at the time of the crash, though none were hurt. The Sterling Heights Police Department was called to the scene at about 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, according to a news release. There, they learned the bus had gone off the road and struck the street sign, leading to “minor damage.” Officer detected “a strong odor of intoxicants coming from her breath” when talking to the bus driver, police say, leading them to conduct a breath test. The preliminary test showed a blood-alcohol content of .10, over the legal limit of .08. Police say the driver was immediately arrested and booked into jail. Any charges against the driver have not been made publicly available. “The safety of our students is the number one priority for Utica Community Schools as we work in partnership with the Sterling Heights Police Department,” the district said in a statement shared on Facebook. “The individual is no longer operating a bus in Utica Community Schools, and there will be a thorough investigation as we closely follow all employee policies and procedures.”