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Fatal crash linked to drugs

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

A Howard County car crash that led to the death of Kokomo man Donald L. Smith, 58, on May 9 was discovered to be the result of mixed drug intoxication, according to a Howard County Coroner’s press release.

On May 9 at approximately 10:04 a.m., deputies from the Howard County Sheriff’s Department responded to a two-vehicle accident involving a semi-tractor trailer on Ind. 35 just east of County Road 400 East, said the HCC release.

The initial scene investigation discovered Smith was driving westbound on Ind. 35 when his 2008 Ford Focus reportedly crossed the center line and went into the path of oncoming traffic.

According to the HCC release, Smith struck a semi-tractor trailer, belonging to John E. Jones, 57, Warren, Michigan, head-on.

“Smith was pronounced dead at the scene from blunt force trauma to the head, chest, abdomen, and pelvis at 10:16 a.m.,” the HCC release stated.

Jones was not injured, nor was anyone else in the vehicles with the men at the time of the accident.

Howard County Coroner Dr. Steven Seele released Smith’s autopsy and toxicology results Thursday afternoon revealing their findings.

“Smith was under the influence of multiple prescription medications that resulted in a mixed drug intoxication at the time of the accident,” said the HCC release.

Any medications, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, can cause impairment and, when mixed together, the side effects can worsen, according to the HCC release.

“Captain Jerry Asher of the Howard County Sheriff’s Department also advises that driving under the influence of drugs, including prescription medications is just as illegal as driving under the influence of alcohol and can result in DUI charges,” stated the HCC release.

The Howard County Sheriff’s Department and Coroner’s Office investigated the accident with assistance from Indiana State Police, Greentown Fire Department, Community Howard Regional EMS, and Howard County Emergency Management.