COLUMBUS, OHIO – The State Highway Patrol and the Delaware County sheriff’s office are investigating an incident last month in which deputies dropped a reportedly intoxicated man at a fast-food restaurant, and he walked away and was struck and killed by a sport-utility vehicle.
Uriel Juarez Popoca, 22, of the Northwest Side, was killed on July 28 while walking west on the Rt. 36 bridge over Alum Creek in Delaware County.
According to a report released by the Highway Patrol, here’s what happened that night:
Authorities received six 911 calls after 9 p.m. about a man driving erratically on I-71 in Delaware County.
Two deputies found Popoca in his vehicle about 9:19 p.m. in the median near the Rts. 36/37 exit. A Highway Patrol trooper also arrived, and found that Popoca already had been handcuffed by deputies.
At 9:32 p.m., the deputies took Popoca to a Taco Bell on Rt. 36 west of I-71. They left him off and told him to call someone for a ride.
Twelve minutes later, a Taco Bell worker made three 911 calls, saying Popoca was walking around the restaurant intoxicated. In the final call, the worker said Popoca had left and was walking west on Rt. 36. Motorists then called to say Popoca had almost been struck by cars near Rt. 36.
A driver then called at 10:34 p.m. to say he had struck a pedestrian. The westbound SUV was driven by Jeffrey S. Detmer, 51, of Findlay, who was not hurt.
Officials said little yesterday about the investigation, which began on July 31.
“The Highway Patrol and the sheriff’s office are doing a joint investigation into their officers’ handling an incident of an allegedly impaired driver,” said Lt. Anne Ralston, a Highway Patrol spokeswoman.The trooper who responded to the first call has been placed on administrative duties, Ralston said.
Jennifer Jarrell, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said, “It’s a simultaneous investigation of our two deputies and one trooper.”
Jarrell said the deputies were on paid leave, but she couldn’t release details, including their names.