Wrong-way driver admits to drinking on Linndale officer’s body camera

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LINNDALE, Ohio-- Callers to 911 early Tuesday began alerting authorities of a car travelling in the wrong direction on Interstate 71, heading south in the northbound lanes.

Shortly before 2 a.m., a Linndale police officer spotted the car heading in his direction.

"The first thing he sees is the sparks coming out of the vehicle so there's obviously something disabled with this vehicle along with the fact that it is travelling the wrong way down the freeway," said Linndale Police Chief Tim Franczak.

The sparks were coming from a wheel against the pavement after the front passenger side tire on the car had been shredded.

"The officer posted himself on the freeway. When he saw the vehicle coming, he does not want to pursue the vehicle, the wrong way down the freeway. So when he sees that the traffic is clear enough he does a U-turn, activating his emergency lights and siren and is able to get the vehicle quickly pulled over to the berm," Franczak said.

The officer's body camera records him approaching the car and calmly questioning the driver, identified as Ryan G. Harmon, 23, of Parma.

With the camera recording the conversation, Harmon not only admits that he had been drinking, but also admitted knowing he was going in the wrong direction on the interstate.

"How much have you had to drink today?" asked the officer.

"More than enough," answered Harmon, who is then administered a field sobriety test before being taken into custody.

In the daylight, damage to the passenger side of Harmon's car shows evidence he was driving on a bare rim and he may have hit somebody or something before he was stopped.

Police said when he was administered a breathalyzer test, Harmon's blood-alcohol level was .244, which is four times Ohio's legal limit.

"It scares me immensely and not only just being an officer of the law, but being a parent of three kids myself, and have young drivers. It's terrifying," said Franczak.

A Canton highway patrol trooper was recently credited with preventing a catastrophe by stopping a wrong-way driver on Interstate 77.

Two wrong-way crashes, one on Interstate 480 and another also on Interstate 77 earlier this year, left one person dead and others injured.

Franczak said his department also had to deal with the death of a newlywed couple who was hit by an impaired driver while on their motorcycle.

"It's something I have to get across, hopefully through the news and the media to share that we have to be careful on our roadways; that our families, our loved ones, they are dying over something like this," said Franczak.

Harmon is charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and reckless operation.

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