A state trooper charged a Wake County paramedic with driving while impaired by prescription drugs after his car drifted across Hodge Road and ran head-on into one in which a father, a pregnant mother and children aged 2 and 3 were riding Wednesday morning.
Jonathan Elliott Fortney, 26, told state troopers he had taken Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, and Ambien, a sleeping aid, according to arrest paperwork. It did not specify when he said he had taken them.
The people in the other car were taken to WakeMed Raleigh hospital as a precaution, but did not appear to be hurt, Sgt. J.M. Dorsey wrote.
Fortney, who lives at 1125 Bristoe Drive in Knightdale, was on his way to work, Wake Emergency Medical Services spokesman Jeffrey Hammerstein said Thursday.
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The crash happened shortly after 7:30 a.m. near the intersection of Hodge Road and Lynwood Estates Drive, troopers reported.
Fortney was hired by EMS in March and is certified as a paramedic, but he is assigned to work at the EMS warehouse and does not operate EMS vehicles, Hammerstein said.
Fortney was placed on leave with pay pending the outcome of the criminal case and an internal investigation, Hammerstein said. After those are completed, Fortney will have a meeting with the agency’s operations chief about his status and assignment.
Dorsey said he charged Fortney after he had failed field tests that police use to determine if a driver seems to be impaired. Fortney agreed to a blood test for alcohol, arrest records showed.
A magistrate noted that Fortney was “extremely cooperative” and had made arrangements for a safe ride home, and he was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond.
Fortney is due in court on the DWI charge on Oct. 26.