By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – It goes without saying, but if a person is doped up to the point where they can barely keep their eyes open they probably shouldn’t be operating an automobile.
But that’s just what an officer found after pulling over a blue, four-door station wagon in the early afternoon of Dec. 29.
According to a police report, the officer was on patrol along U.S. Highway 70 at about 12:51 p.m. when he noticed a westbound vehicle on the highway run a red light at the intersection with 5th Avenue.
The officer attempted to make a traffic stop, and the car initially began to yield but then continued along at roughly 5 mph as the officer observed the passenger appear to reach underneath his seat multiple times. The vehicle eventually then stopped at the intersection of 10th Avenue.
Upon contact with the occupants, the officer could tell they both the driver, Jacob Rios, 28, of Safford, and his passenger appeared to be under the influence of some type of drug. Additionally, the passenger, William Vandever, 23, of Safford, appeared to have a fresh injection mark where he was bleeding from his forearm.
After learning Rios’ driver’s license was suspended, the officer impounded the car and began to do an inventory search while asking Rios if there were any needles to be wary of. Rios allegedly indicated where there would be drug paraphernalia. The officer then located two used syringes, cotton Q-tips, a lighter and a spoon with burn marks in that area. The officer also located a third syringe under the passenger seat, which Vandever denied knowledge of. Vandever was given a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia and was released from the scene.
Rios was taken back to the Safford Police Department for further DUI-drug evaluation and began to fall asleep or “nod off” while in the back of the patrol unit. Rios denied needing medical attention but allegedly admitted to using heroin about five minutes before the officer pulled him over.
Rios was arrested for driving with a suspended license and possession of drug paraphernalia. His blood was taken for testing purposes and a report was sent to the Graham County Attorney’s Office for an additional DUI-drug charge. The County Attorney will review the report and related blood test analysis before possibly charging Rios for driving while impaired on heroin.
Rios was then given a ride to his residence and released.