Driver who police say overdosed at the wheel faces OVI charge


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

BOARDMAN

A driver suspected of overdosing at the wheel at a busy township intersection this week was convicted of operating a vehicle while impaired for a similar incident last year.

According to court records, Anthony M. Romeo, 35, of North Lima, was convicted of OVI in September 2016 for an incident in which police responded to calls about an erratic driver.

According to a police report filed May 26, 2016, police received a call about a driver “running red lights, swerving into oncoming traffic, and slamming on his brakes at red lights while coming to a complete stop in the middle of intersections.”

The call led police to arrest Romeo, who they said exhibited signs of inebriation and acknowledged taking prescription medications for pain and anxiety that morning. Police also reported that Romeo passed out in his vehicle while an officer was writing him a citation, and said they found pills on him for which he did not have a prescription.

Romeo was sentenced in that case to 180 days in jail with 177 suspended, a 180-day license suspension with credit dating back to the May incident, 12 months’ probation and a fine, according to court records.

Wednesday’s incident began in a similar way, with police receiving calls about an erratic driver at Indianola Road and Southern Boulevard. According to a police report, the car swerved into both lanes of traffic, then stopped at the intersection with the driver “slumped over.”

Police reported finding Romeo passed out in the driver’s seat, with his foot on the brake and the car in park. An officer had to break the passenger window to get into the car.

Police said Romeo regained consciousness after he was removed from the vehicle and given naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. According to the report, Romeo initially told officers he had taken too much of an opioid pain medication he is prescribed for an injury, but he later denied that account.

Romeo’s license was suspended immediately because he refused an OVI test. He was charged with OVI and OVI refusal with a prior conviction, according to the report.

A witness recorded part of the incident and shared the video on Facebook. The video, which shows police carrying Romeo out of his car, had been viewed more than 6,600 times as of Thursday afternoon.

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