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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.

>> WHO IS JAMES POHLABELN?

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.