Driver in crash that killed trooper was under influence of drugs, records say

CLEVELAND-- The man accused of hitting and killing an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper on Interstate 90 has been charged.

Trooper Kenneth Velez, 48, was standing in the berm along the westbound lanes of I-90 while conducting traffic enforcement outside his patrol car, the highway patrol said. A 2015 Hyundai swerved towards the berm to avoid hitting another vehicle and struck Velez shortly before 1 p.m. Thursday.

On Friday, Joshua J. Gaspar, 37, of Columbia Station, was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide. According to Cleveland Municipal Court records, Gaspar was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash. The documents did not say what specific drugs are suspected.

The I-Team checked Gaspar's driving record. It shows 13 convictions, 8 of them for speeding; the others are for things like seat belt violations or running a light.

“This is a tragedy for the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Department of Public Safety,” said Col. Paul Pride, Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent. “Our prayers go out to the Velez family during this difficult time.”

Velez graduated with the 118th academy class in 1989. He leaves behind three children.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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