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I-75 CRASH: Driver previously threatened ‘suicide by cop’

Published: Monday, February 15, 2016 @ 11:03 AM
Updated: Monday, February 15, 2016 @ 4:43 PM

Wrong-way driver had threatened to commit suicide

The suspected drunk wrong way driver on I-75 that killed four people and himself over the weekend, threatened to kill himself before, according to Dayton police records.

James Pohlabeln, a 61-year-old Dayton resident, called his wife, Marcy Pohlabeln threatening suicide and “suicide by cop” in November after his brother died, the report shows.

>> EARLIER: Driver released from jail just hours before deadly crash

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“Marcy said James drinks a lot,” wrote Officer Harry Dilley in an incident report, “… James said he wanted the police to kill him. Marcy showed officer Brienza and I the text messages on her phone.”

Pohlabeln sent the threatening text messages three months before drove the wrong way on I-75, where struck a sports utility vehicle killing four young friends: Kyle Canter, 23, of New Carlisle; Earl Miller II, 27, of New Carlisle; Vashti Nicole Brown, 29, of Dayton; and Devin Bachmann, 26, of Huber Heights.

>> EARLIER: Friends say victims deserved better

We are working to bring you more information on the victims and the driver.

Staff writer Mark Gokavi contributed to this report.


Pohlabeln was retired and lived on his investment income and savings from his retirement account, according to records related to his divorce case. He lived at a Dayton home he has owned since the 1970s and bought from his parents, the records show.

Pohlabeln had been living in hotels and motels for a stint but moved back into his home in December.

About 48 hours before Saturday’s fatal crash, Pohlabeln was arrested after crashing into two parked cars.

At about 2:20 a.m. Thursday, Pohlabeln was driving eastbound on East Fourth Street near Bell Street in a 1997 Chevy Silverado when he “apparently lost control and collided” with a parked car, a crash report says. The crash pushed the car he struck into another parked car, the report said.

The report gives the offense charged as “operating a motor vehicle without reasonable control.” Pohlabeln was arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and failure to control.

He pleaded not guilty in municipal court and a judge released him on his own recognizance, according to court records. He got out of jail about 7 p.m. Thursday.

Members of the Pohlabeln family declined to comment but expressed condolences to the families of the four crash victims.