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Syringe preparation spoon and prepared the heroin. Stop the use of drugs. (StanislauV/Shutterstock) Syringe preparation spoon and prepared the heroin. Stop the use of drugs. (StanislauV/Shutterstock) Photo of Steve Birr

9:39 PM 02/25/2018

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A man with several previous impaired drivingcharges crashed his car on a Wisconsin highway after suffering a heroin overdose behind the wheel.

Madison Police Department officers responded to a West Beltline Highway on-ramp vehicle crash after 25-year-old motorist Jonathan Leverton-Duerst was seen accelerating off the road before going down a ditch and smashing into a fence, according to Channel 3000.

A nurse in a car behind Leverton-Duerst found him unconscious and without a pulse. The nurse administered life-saving CPR until paramedics arrived and eventually revived him. Police searched Leverton-Duerst’s car and discovered heroin and drug paraphernalia. Leverton-Duerst was subsequently arrested on suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence, which was his fourth offense.

A recent study found the opioid scourge is making roadways across the U.S. more dangerous, accounting for a 700 percent increase in traffic deaths.

Researchers from Columbia University in New York City investigated more than two decades of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The study aimed to see if traffic accidents and fatalities climbed in association with opioid use, particularly prescription painkillers.

“The significant increase in proportion of drivers who test positive for prescription pain medications is an urgent public health concern,” Stanford Chihuri, lead researcher of the study, told CBS News. “Prescription pain medications use and abuse may play a role in motor vehiclecrashes. Additional research is urgently needed to assess its role.”

Authorities in states across the country say they are witnessing more accidents linked to drivers using painkillers and heroin due to the worsening addiction crisis.

Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, released Sept. 7, predicts that the opioid epidemic in America will continue to worsen, pushing drug deaths to an estimated 71,600 for 2017 records. If the estimates prove accurate, 2017 will be recorded as the second year in a row that drug deaths surpass U.S. casualties from the Vietnam War.

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