NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The driver who crashed his car into a Walgreens after a brief police chase had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit, according to the county coroner.
Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans ruled Wednesday that Jeremy Casey, 32, died from blunt force trauma during the accident in which he was ejected from his Chevy Impala and it landed on top of him.
Evans said toxicology tests showed Casey’s blood-alcohol level was 0.232 percent, well above the 0.08 percent at which Ohio law deems a driver too impaired to drive.
Casey died about 3:30 a.m. Sunday after a brief police pursuit that began at the McDonald’s restaurant on Lorain Road and continued down Lear-Nagle Road, ending about a minute later when Casey’s vehicle struck a Walgreens drugstore at the intersection of Lear-Nagle and Center Ridge roads.
Police were called to the restaurant on reports of a driver passed out in his car in the drive-through lane. As officers arrived, the driver, awakened by another person and later identified as Casey, drove around one police cruiser and fled at a high rate of speed as police tried to stop him by blocking the drive-through.
Police Chief Michael Freeman said police pursued Casey because he sped away. The pursuit lasted about a minute before Casey’s vehicle went airborne and hit the side of the drugstore.
Casey previously had been arrested and convicted on charges of assault, domestic violence, drunken driving and other charges.
Family and friends have said that Casey’s past record did not provide a complete picture of his life.
Mark Hart, the father of Tricia Hart, Casey’s girlfriend and mother of the couple’s 14-month-old baby, said Casey was a good guy.
“Jeremy Casey is the father of my only grandchild, and I can assure you that he’s a better person than was described in your paper,” Hart said. “We all have faults as we are human. Jeremy’s entire life revolved around his family and those he loved.
“His work ethics were far above most men I know, and his love for family is unmatched. I couldn’t ask for a better man for my daughter to have as a companion and father to her child.”
Hart said Casey, who worked as a bricklayer, took a first place in the 2011 World of Concrete competition in Las Vegas representing Local 5 Bricklayers Union and Foti Construction in Cleveland.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or email@example.com.