On March 16, police observed Emily Thomas driving without a tire on County Hwy. PB.

They soon found out the 38 year old was leaving the scene of a crash in which her vehicle had destroyed a traffic signal.

That was one of five heroin-related arrests Verona police have made since April 23, in which people had either overdosed or had recently used the drug, Lt. Dave Dresser told the Press in an email. One of the three overdoses required the administration of naloxone to revive the person.

The spike is concerning not only from a public health perspective, but also from a traffic safety one, Dresser wrote.

“When offenders drive while under the influence of alcohol or marijuana, they are quite often impaired and pose a danger to other drivers,” he said. “When an offender operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of heroin, they are not only impaired, but quite frequently become incapacitated to the point of being unconscious, an extreme danger to other drivers.”

In one recent incident, a 32 year old Madison man passed out after taking heroin and crashed into a light pole in the city May 15.

A day later, Thomas was arrested for what would be at least her sixth OWI. As of June 2, she had not yet been charged, but the Press’ editorial policy prints the names of people charged with felonies or arrested and booked on recommended felony charges.

Other incidents included officers finding three people who appeared to have overdosed while parked in a vehicle on West End Circle on April 23, a 24 year old New Glarus man who was found in the median of U.S. Hwy. 18-151 after overdosing on narcotic pills on May 22 and two people who were found high on heroin at Fireman’s Park claiming to be catching toads on May 27, Dresser wrote.

Dresser wrote that the department makes life preservation a priority, including intervention and administration of naloxone (Narcan) and assistance from Fitch-Rona EMS, in situations involving heroin. In one case, an officer injured himself breaking a window to help a person who had overdosed, later getting 15 stitches in his arm.

“We have no doubt Verona Police officers prevented serious injury or death of those who overdosed on heroin but also to the general public they endangered when they chose to operate a motor vehicle after or while ingesting heroin,” he said.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.​