• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Drugged driving becomes a serious problem

Sometimes, people injecting heroin and taking other powerful drugs don't stay at the place where they shot up. Sometimes, before the drug or drug cocktail has worn off, they drive, putting themselves and others at risk. That's what allegedly happened twice in two days in Woodford County - and those incidents are only the ones in which the driver got caught. On Sept. 4 at 8:34 a.m., a GMC Sonoma driven by Daniel C. Mondelli, 35, of Crittenden, was traveling on Leestown Road near Fire Gate 57 when Mondelli lost consciousness. Mondelli drove off the right side of the road and his vehicle went through a wooden plank fence. He told police he'd injected heroin. The next day at 4:33 pm., a Toyota Camry driven by Nicholas H. Khayat, 24, of Lexington, crossed the median of the Blue Grass Parkway and began traveling the wrong way. Khayat crossed the median again, crossed both lanes, and his vehicle left the road and came to rest in a culvert on the side of the road. Police say he fell asleep due to taking drugs. Versailles Police Department (VPD) Lt. Michael Fortney couldn't discuss the particulars of those cases, but said drugged driving is a problem. "A lot of people, when they're . addicted to any type of drugs, they're going to take these drugs and drive, very similar to what an alcoholic would, leaving a bar at two in the morning ." Fortney said. "The people that are on the narcotics are also on the roads, so when we target impaired driving, we're not just targeting alcohol-related offenses." Fortney said if officers pull over a driver they believe is impaired and don't smell alcohol, they look for other signs for the driver's behavior. They can also ask the suspect to take a blood or urine test. In Mondelli's case, police say he confessed to having just shot up heroin. Anti-Drug Task Force Meantime, an anti-drug task force composed of police and prosecutors from the 14th Judicial Circuit (Woodford, Bourbon and Scott counties) reports some progress. On Sept. 15, search warrants executed by Versailles and Georgetown police officers turned up illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia in a home at 107 Dan Drive and a business, All Lacquered Up, at 102 Rose Hill Avenue. A son and his mother were taken to the Woodford County Detention Center and charged with several offenses. Tanner Cheatham, 21, was charged with trafficking in a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, first-degree possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Shelley Renae Campbell, 45, was charged with trafficking in a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, third-degree possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. "The warrants were an accumulation of months of long investigation into complaints of drug trafficking occurring at the locations ." Fortney said. Fortney said marijuana, cocaine and diverted prescription medications were found in the home and business. The investigation is ongoing, and Fortney said police hope it leads to other arrests, not all of which will involve what some call a heroin epidemic. "Heroin's kind of in the forefront right now, just because it's more of a nationwide issue, with the heroin and the fentanyl. Some communities are having multiple overdoses (in a single day) ." Fortney said, adding that some users assume that if they overdose, emergency responders will find them and save their lives by administering the drug Narcan. "We're doing the best we can, but with it being a growing problem, it takes a lot of manpower and time to fight that, which is one reason (Commonwealth's Attorney) Gordie Shaw went ahead and we started with this judicial task force. It shows that not only are we working in our community, but we're working in our neighboring communities as well," Fortney said. "I think you'll see a lot more cases going forward as this task force gets up and going."

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