Police responded to the scene of what they thought was a fatal crash, but discovered it wasn’t fatal at all — the driver had been traveling with a dead body as a passenger, according to officials.
Police said a car driven by John Polen, 31, veered off an interstate in Belmont County on Monday, striking an exit sign and ejecting his passenger, 36-year-old David Saunders, from the vehicle, WTOV reported.
Initially, police believed the crash had killed Saunders, but the medical examiner determined something else — Saunders had died hours before the crash, WTRF reported.
Officials said Saunders had been reported missing the same day as the incident, according to the outlet.
Evidence suggested that Saunders was already dead at Polen’s home earlier in the day, WTOV reported. Polen is believed to have been on drugs at the time of the crash, police said, according to the outlet.
Officials have not determined Saunders’ cause of death, but they say information is pointing toward an overdose, Newsweek reported. An autopsy is expected at the end of the week.
Polen was injured in the crash and had been taken to an area hospital for treatment before his arrest, according to the outlet
He’s charged with a felony count of offenses against a human corpse, according to court records. He was also charged with impaired driving, Newsweek reported.
Belmont County is roughly two hours east of Columbus.