A 64-year-old Linton man is facing a felony charge after an officer said he saw the man’s car traveling left of center then almost hit the officer’s cruiser head-on.
John Kenneth Wheeler is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol with a Alcohol Concentration Equivalent (ACE) well above the legal limit of .08.
Jasonville Police Officer Andrew Duguay was on patrol late in the evening on Thursday, April 19, when he reported seeing a maroon 1995 Mercury Mark III travel left of center while westbound on County Road 300 North, then almost hit the officer’s vehicle head on.
Duguay said he hit the lights and siren and stopped his vehicle in the roadway in front of 12503 West CR 300 North to avoid being hit.
According to probable cause documents, instead of stopping, the Mark III slowly got back into the right lane and continued on westbound. So Officer Duguay turned around and caught up to the car that was traveling around 20 mph. It stopped at the intersection of CR 300 North and State Road 59, so Duguay stopped behind it with lights and siren still on. But as he walked up to the vehicle, it turned south onto State Road 59. Duguay said he ran back to his own vehicle and followed again, with lights and siren. The driver, later identified as Wheeler, traveled on to 2876 North SR 59, turned in front of a garage then came to a stop.
JPD Officer Dustin Cain had also arrived on the scene and the two officers made contact with Wheeler, asking if he saw the lights and siren behind him. Duguay reported Wheeler said he did but wanted to get his car home safe.
According to Officer Duguay, they could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Wheeler and his eyes were glassy and bloodshot.
At least one field sobriety test was conducted on the scene, which Wheeler allegedly failed.
Wheeler was transported to the Linton Police Department for additional field sobriety testing. Duguay reported he failed all tests and gave consent for a chemical test. Greene County Sheriff’s Deputy Zachary Goad administered a breath test and advised Wheeler’s blood alcohol content was .253 grams per 210 liters of breath.
Due to his level of intoxication, Wheeler was then transported to Greene County General Hospital for a medical clearance. Duguay said a doctor there told him they were having trouble getting Wheeler’s heart rate down to a normal level and staff at the Greene County Jail said they would not accept Wheeler if he was having heart trouble. Wheeler was admitted to the hospital and was expected to see a cardiologist about his heart rate.
On Tuesday, April 24, the Greene County Prosecutor's Office filed a case against Wheeler. A warrant was issued for his arrest and Wheeler turned himself in on Thursday, April 26. His bond was set at $8,000 surety with ten percent allowed. Wheeler was released the same day after posting $800 cash.
When Wheeler appeared before Judge Dena Martin in Greene Superior Court for an initial hearing on Monday, April 30, a public defender was appointed to represent him and he was formally charged with:
- Resisting law enforcement using a vehicle, a Level 6 felony,
- Operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to .15 BAC or more, a class A misdemeanor,
- Operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person, a Class A misdemeanor, and
- Operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a class C misdemeanor.
A trial date has not been set.