Grasonville man revived after apparent overdose, faces charges in crash on I-97 near Annapolis

Phil Davis

Four days after a 12-year-old was killed by a driver suspected of overdosing on opioids, a Queen Anne’s County man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of drugged driving following an accident on Interstate 97.

Maryland State Police said a trooper responded to a report of a crash on southbound Interstate 97 near Route 50 around 7:20 p.m for a report of a crash.

Police and firefighters found a two-car crash with one of the drivers, Justin Michael James Bennett of Grasonville unconscious.

Police said Bennett struck a car in an adjacent lane while driving south on I-97. The crash appeared to be minor with no one injuries, said Capt. Russ Davies, spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.

However, Davies said it took multiple doses of naloxone — a drug that combats the symptoms of an opioid overdose — to revive and stabilize Bennett. State police did not specify what drug they believe Bennett had taken.

Bennett was taken to the hospital for further treatment and then arrested on suspicion of driving while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance.

Ron Synder, a police spokesman, said Bennett is scheduled to go before a District Court commissioner in Annapolis, where he is expected to bhe charged.

Drugged driving accidents have been in the spotlight following a Sunday crash that killed Matthew Murphy, a seventh-grade student at Magothy River Middle School, while he was walking with his mother and brother on the sidewalk.

Police charged the driver, Michael Blair Gauthier, 37, of Arnold, with manslaughter and vehicular homicide,. Police suspect he was under the influence of cocaine, heroin, or both at the time of the accident.

According to Anne Arundel County police, the number of serious or fatal accidents where at least one driver was accused of driving under the influence of drugs has not spiked in recent years, despite the county’s ongoing problem with opioid addiction.

Sunday’s crash in Arnold highlighted the issue of drugged driving, which has also become a national issue as some states move forward with legalized marijuana.

While the number of fatal accidents has not increased, the county has seen a handful of accidents with similar circumstances.

In June, a Calvert County woman pleaded guilty to two counts of negligent manslaughter for her role in a Valentine’s Day 2016 crash that killed two newlyweds. The woman, Lauren Scott, 28, tested positive for opioids and cannabis, police said.

Prosecutors indicted Valerie Helen Matthews, 63, of Severn, on manslaughter and vehicular homicide charges in March for a fatal crash when she allegedly struck Walter I. Gonzalez-Lopez, 56, of Baltimore.

Gonzalez-Lopez was working construction in Severn on Route 175 on July 26 when Matthews allegedly hit him and another man while driving both drunk and drugged. The other man, Edin Romero-Maldonado, 19, survived his injuries.

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