WAYNE ALLEN and BOB STRICKLEY
PDT Staff Writers
Saturday night’s OVI checkpoint on US 52 eastbound at the exit ramp to State Route 335 had a finale fit for a law enforcement television.
Tyler C. Gardner, 20, of South Webster, entered the site at the conclusion of the checkpoint and garnered the attention of officers from the Portsmouth Police Department and Ohio State Highway Patrol when they overheard a loud thump and observed Gardner’s vehicle driving through a line of traffic cones, striking many.
Lieutenant Karla Taulbee, commander of the Portsmouth Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, was on site and wrapping up the operation when Gardner entered the location.
“We had just stepped off the line and heard him hit — we were standing there in one of the lanes we had closed off and he hit the barrels and traffic cones we had,” Taulbee said. “We heard it and one of the troopers saw it and started yelling at us because we had our backs to him.”
Gardner’s vehicle nearly struck a stopped vehicle ahead of him in the checkpoint but the driver heard the commotion and managed to escape an accident by speeding out of the line.
“We were yelling at him and there was a car in front stopped at the checkpoint and then she sped off to get away because she thought he was going to hit her,” Taulbee said.
Officers opened the passenger side door as Gardner’s vehicle slowed and eventually secured the vehicle and Gardner without injuries.
Of the 432 motorists contacted at Saturday’s checkpoint, 15 were diverted for further investigation and of those 15, five were cited for driving without a license or driving under a suspended license. Gardner was the only OVI arrest made at the checkpoint location, but another OVI (operating an vehicle while under the influence) arrest was made by a patrolling unit off-site.
Taulbee said Saturday’s incident was the first of its kind she has experienced, but mentioned Scioto County is known for its eventful OVI checkpoints.
“This is the first time we have had someone come through running over the barrels and almost hitting us in a car,” Taulbee said. “Scioto County has interesting OVI’s. We had a foot pursuit at the last one. This is the first one that I have been to where we have had someone run it.”
The location was chosen due to an increased number of OVI related crashes that have historically occurred on the east side of Scioto County. Starting at 10 p.m. Saturday evening, the checkpoint concluded at 1 a.m. Sunday.
In a statement released by the OSHP, Taulbee said the public’s reaction to the checkpoints has been positive.
“The checkpoint was a good opportunity for units to have positive interaction with motorists and show law enforcement officers are focused on being proactive to reduce alcohol related crashes,” Taulbee said. “There were many positive comments received by the public to clearly support the efforts of law enforcement officers.”
Representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.) were on the site Saturday to support the officers.