News and Tribune

April 11, 2013

Man strikes utility pole while allegedly under influence of pills

Wreck causes 4-hour power outage for 350 area homes


JEFFERSONVILLE — A Floyds Knobs man believed to be under the influence of prescription pills drove an SUV into a Duke Energy utility pole located near East 8th and Graham streets in Jeffersonville Wednesday night, police reported.

John Thomas Kern III, 28, of 5020 Edwardsville Galena Road, was driving a 2005 gold Ford Escape when he struck the power pole about 9:15 p.m., according to the police report.

The accident resulted in a power outage to 351 Duke Energy customers from the time of the wreck to 1:04 a.m. Thursday, a Duke Energy spokesman said.

Police suspected Kern was intoxicated after initially speaking with him at the wreck scene.

“While talking with Kern, I observed that his speech was slurred and his balance was unsteady, however, I did not smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from his person,” the JPD officer noted in the police report.

Kern told the officer that he had not recently consumed any alcohol, but said that he had taken two Lortabs throughout the day. The pills were prescribed to him, but Kern couldn’t advise the officer what time he had taken the pills, according to the police report.

The officer administered three field sobriety tests.

During the walk-and-turn test, Kern began the test on two occasions before he was instructed to do so and missed several heel-to-toe steps.

“Kern lost balance once prior to the turn and had to raise his arms up and step off line to keep from falling over,” according to the report.

The officer reported that he had to explain the instructions of the one-leg-stand test twice before Kern said he understood the test.

“Kern lost his balance during the test three times,” the officer administering the test reported. “After the third time, Kern put his foot down to keep from falling. I ended the test for his safety.”

Kern was then arrested and given a portable breath test, which he returned a result of zero percent blood alcohol concentration.

He was placed into a patrol vehicle to be taken to Clark Memorial Hospital for a blood draw.

“While en route to the hospital, Kern asked me if Xanax would have caused him to have an accident. I did not reply,” the officer put into the police report.

After a blood sample was taken at the hospital, Kern was transported to the Michael L. Becher Adult Correctional Complex.

As he was being search by jail staff, he was asked to remove his shoes, per jail policy.

“Kern used his feet to pry off his shoes,” according to the report. “When Kern did this, a cellophane wrapper that had come from a cigarette pack fell from one of his feet.”

In the package, police found three white and three blue pills. The pills were later identified as Xanax and Soma. Kern told officers he had forgotten the pills were in his shoe.

He was preliminarily charged by Jeffersonville police with possession of controlled substance, a class C felony, and operating while intoxicated, a class C misdemeanor.

Court records had not been updated  as of press time with Kern’s upcoming court appearance in Clark County.