Autopsy shows man used drugs before fatal police chase

Saturday, September 30th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The man who led police on a pursuit that ended in four deaths on Interstate 40 was under the influence of drugs, according to autopsy reports.

Patrick Kiplinger's blood contained methamphetamine and trace amounts of amphetamine at the time of the crash, said Philip Kemp, chief forensic toxicologist of the state medical examiner's office.

Reports indicate Kiplinger, 41, used methamphetamine within hours of his death.

Oklahoma City police officials have said the reason Kiplinger fled will probably never be known. The report indicates that Kiplinger's drug levels may have been a factor.

``Effects at this level of methamphetamine may include irrational behavior, agitation, paranoia, confusion and driving impairment,'' the report said.

Four people died in the crash on I-40, including Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Matt Evans, 24, Oklahoma City police Officer Jeff Rominger, 42, and Kiplinger's 15-year-old nephew, Martin Hughes.

About 3 a.m. on Aug. 31, Rominger began pursuing Kiplinger's car near Southwest 15th and Brookline Avenue. Evans, on his way to help another trooper with a traffic stop, was driving westbound on I-40.

Kiplinger, driving eastbound, led Rominger into the westbound lanes of I-40. Evans was unaware that the vehicles were approaching. His radio could not pick up police frequencies.

By the time he saw the two cars approaching, crash investigators said Evans had less than 3 seconds to react.

Kiplinger struck a westbound tractor-trailer and then collided with Evans' patrol cruiser. Kiplinger's car struck the trailer again and rebounded into a concrete barrier. Evans' car continued forward, heading toward Rominger's car, and began to roll.

The patrol car struck the right front side of Rominger's vehicle.

The three cars ended up in a fiery, crumpled heap.