Alcohol not involved in state highway patrol crash

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In a painful about-face, the State Highway Patrol yesterday said a trooper driving a patrol car that crashed with a pickup, killing himself and two others, was not drinking before the accident.

The news was an explosive clarification of the patrol’s announcement earlier this month that Trooper Josh Risner had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent, legally drunk under Ohio law, at the time of the crash. An analysis conducted by a division of the Federal Aviation Administration determined Risner did not drink any alcohol at least 16 hours before his death. The test concluded that any alcohol in Risner’s system was a result of decomposition and not drinking, said Col. Paul McClellan, head of the patrol.

“This test confirms that there was no alcohol before impact,” he said.

The Sept. 28 crash in Gallia County in southern Ohio killed Risner, 29, his passenger, trooper Sgt. Dale Holcomb, 45, and the driver of a pickup, Lori Smith, 32, of Vinton.