Heroin addicts using while driving

Published: Thursday, November 13, 2014 @ 5:13 PM
Updated: Friday, November 14, 2014 @ 4:52 AM

A driver suspected of using heroin at the wheel ran a stop sign this week, causing an accident that involved a school bus and cut a car in half.

The crash, which sent one victim to the hospital in critical condition, was just one in a rising number of drug-related car accidents.

“We have people shooting up as they drive down the road,” Sgt. Chris Colbert of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said. “In the last four or five years, that’s not uncommon at all. They use it as soon as they get it, which often means in the car.”

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Kelly Hooks, 35, of Celina is facing potential criminal charges after she drove through a stop sign Tuesday afternoon on North Diamond Mill Road and struck a car driven by 27-year-old Christopher Biddle. Biddle, whose car was cut in half, remained in serious condition Thursday. Troopers believe Hooks was under the influence of heroin at the time of the crash.

Colbert said drugged driving has been on the increase over the last four years, and today, heroin is the drug of choice.

“Heroin does a lot of the same things as alcohol. It slows you down, slurs your speech, affects your motor skills,” Colbert said. “It’s an opiate. But it’s a lot faster acting than alcohol. If you’re snorting or injecting it, it’s in your blood stream within seconds.”

The Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center has taken 219 overdose calls just this month, according to Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer. Out of 1,011 drug-related arrests in the area, more than half of them involved heroin, he said.

“The heroin is so addicting, that as soon as they get out and get it in their hands, they have to shoot it,” Plummer said. “So it could be while they’re driving, or while they’re at a gas station, shooting up in a bathroom or at a convenience store.”

Lori Erion with Families of Addicts, a support organization for families and recovering drug users, said an increase in levels of fentanyl, a prescription painkiller, may be making users more impaired.

“They pull over, shoot up , and drive off a few minutes later,” Erion said.”A lot of accidents are happening because of the increase in fentanyl in heroin. Users are more impaired than they used to be.”

The number of heroin overdoses at the Circle K gas station on U.S. 35 east of Dayton has earned it the unflattering nickname, “Heroin Highway,” according to Greene County Sheriff Gene Fisher.

“We know that people pull in to the Circle K and shoot up in the bathroom, then take off driving down the road, which is dangerous,” Fisher said.

Erion said the car accidents are a symptom of a larger problem.

“The only thing I can say is that the same heroin causing these accidents is also killing the people who use it,” she said. “They’re just not dead yet.”