Deputy on Leave Pending OVI Case

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An off-duty Mahoning County Sheriff’s Deputy was charged over the weekend with drunk driving after crashing his SUV into a pair of vehicles parked in a driveway on South Raccoon Road in Canfield.

Deputy Kenneth O’Rourke, 52, is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of criminal OVI charges and an internal investigation by the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.

“Actually all I heard was a loud noise. It just was a really loud noise,” said Leilani Shaffer, who owns the vehicles struck by O’Rourke on Sunday night.

The Shaffer’s were watching TV inside their Mellinger Road home just before 10 p.m. on Mother’s Day. Their address is on Mellinger, but the driveway where the vehicles were parked is on South Raccoon Road.

Outside, a white Ford Explorer driven by O’Rourke was traveling south on Raccoon Road when it went off the right side of the road and into a ditch.  O’Rourke then came back across the center line and through the Shaffer’s yard before slamming into the rear passenger side of Tim Shaffer’s Roth Bros. company truck. The impact pushed the pickup into a Ford Escort parked on the other side of the driveway.

Reports state O’Rourke’s blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was .242, which is more than three times the legal Ohio driving limit of .08.

“My husband was talking to him, and I noticed that his words were slurring a little bit,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer said O’Rourke is lucky he narrowly missed hitting a utility pole and the corner of their house or garage. It became a teachable moment for her teenage kids to not get behind the wheel of a car after drinking.

“My daughter took the pictures and said ‘this is the reason why you don’t drive’ to her brothers as soon as they came home,” Shaffer said.

O’Rourke was arrested by fellow Mahoning County sheriff’s deputies and spent Sunday night at the Mahoning County Jail. He was released Monday morning, and is due in Mahoning County Court in Canfield for a pretrial hearing on May 24. His attorney, John Juhasz, already has entered a not guilty plea on O’Rourke’s behalf.

Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said he is disappointed in O’Rourke’s actions and if he is found guilty, he could be subject to disciplinary action, including termination.

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