Just after 1:00 am Saturday morning, Columbus Police Officer Stephen Kemp responded to the intersection of Highland Circle and 8th St. N. for reports of a drunk driver that had wrecked.
On scene, he found alleged intoxicated driver Ryan Newell (an employee an Severstal) walking on 8th St. Newell claimed that he ran off the road while he was texting, though he showed signs of intoxication.
Newell’s Chevrolet Trailblazer was Eastbound on Highland Circle when it veered off the South side of the street near the 8th St. intersection. The SUV cut across the Southwest corner of the intersection, barely missing a lightpole. It demolished a street sign, crossed 8th St., plowed through a stop sign and flattened a tree on the Southeast corner before becoming lodged on the tree’s trunk.
David Tedford, who’s property is located on the Southeast corner, told the Packet that he arrived home from work within seconds of the chaos. According to Tedford, Newell tried to drive away from the wreck. When the Trailblazer could not be dislodged from the tree, he says Newell then got out of the vehicle and started walking south on 8th St. Newell followed the man, not giving him the chance to disappear before the police arrived.
After Officer Kemp arrived at the scene, Newell was quickly arrested for Public Drunk. [While he was allegedly driving under the influence, he was not in the vehicle when Kemp arrived. Therefore, it could not be proven beyond a doubt that he was driving. – JD]
Tedford was saddened by the destruction of the tree. He says the 40-year-old Eastern Redbud had previously been in poor health. Tedford and his wife had nursed the tree back to health and referred to it as their ‘favorite tree.’
Tedford finished by saying, “I had some plans for tomorrow, but I guess I’ll be cutting up a tree.”