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Pasco Sheriff's Office arrests 5 drivers passed out behind wheel of cars

In less than 24 hours in west Pasco, five people — in five separate incidents — were found passed out behind the wheel in their cars, according to reports from the Pasco Sheriff's Office. One man was found asleep while still holding a needle. Another was in the middle of a street with his foot on the brake, the engine running and the gear in drive. Yet another man, a resource coordinator for West Pasco Habitat for Humanity, had been seen weaving into oncoming traffic.

Here are the arrests:

1:24 a.m. Thursday

U.S. 19 at Buena Vista Lane, Holiday

The driver — Teresa N. Haley, 24, of Palm Harbor — and a passenger were asleep in a gold 2000 Toyota Solara and "not easily awakened," a report states. Haley told deputies she took methamphetamines and Roxicodone. While being arrested, Haley is accused of punching a deputy in the head, as well as kicking and elbowing. En route to jail, Haley "snored loudly," the report states. She is charged with DUI, resisting an officer with violence and battery on an officer. She is being held at the Land O'Lakes jail without bail.

11:30 a.m. Thursday

Massachusetts Avenue, New Port Richey

A deputy found Erik North, a 28-year-old unemployed man from New Port Richey, sleeping in the driver's seat of a car while still holding a needle with a clear substance in it, according to a report. After waking up, North told the deputy he planned to inject himself with Roxicodone. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription and was released the same day on $2,000 bail.

3:04 p.m. Thursday

U.S. 19 at Moog Road, Holiday

Daniel M. Martin, a 29-year-old disabled man from New Port Richey, was found reclined in his driver's seat "unresponsive and sweating a lot," a report states. After waking, he admitted to taking methadone, Xanax, Soma and Roxicodone, the report says. He is charged with driving under the influence and was released from jail Friday.

9:53 p.m. Thursday

Lakeview Drive, New Port Richey

A car was stopped in the middle of the road and a deputy found the driver — Joseph A. Wyatt, a 26-year-old electrician from New Port Richey — "passed out in the driver's seat with his foot on the brake and the truck in gear with the engine running," a report says. Wyatt was drooling and had fresh track marks on his right arm, the report states. Wyatt told authorities he had taken two hydrocodone pills before driving and that he "does not know why he stopped in the middle of the street and passed out." He is charged with driving under the influence and was released from jail Friday.

12:41 a.m. Friday

State Road 54, New Port Richey

A person saw what appeared to be a drunk driver weaving into oncoming traffic, and followed the car into a parking lot of a Wendy's east of Rowan Road, where the driver passed out. A deputy arrived and found Richard "Rick" T. Pittenger, a 27-year-old from Georgia, sleeping with the driver's door open and the car keys in his hand. After waking up, Pittenger admitted to drinking "a lot" before driving, according to his arrest report. He is charged with driving under the influence and is being held in jail in lieu of $150 bail.

Pittenger is an AmeriCorps volunteer working as the resource coordinator at West Pasco Habitat for Humanity. A woman who answered the phone at the Habitat office said Pittenger is employed by AmeriCorps and was placed at the office — but is not an employee of West Pasco Habitat.

Sheriff's Office spokesman Kevin Doll said, unfortunately, this many arrests aren't uncommon — and that people should know that impaired drivers aren't just on the roads at night.

"People drink and take drugs at all hours of the day and night," Doll said.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected]

Pasco Sheriff's Office arrests 5 drivers passed out behind wheel of cars 05/15/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 15, 2009 8:21pm]
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