By Marjorie Nesin
---- — A 28-year-old Essex man is facing drugged driving charges for the second time in a month after an arrest early Saturday morning, four weeks after his first offense and drug charges stemming from a crash into a stone wall on Washington Street that sent both him and a passenger to out-of-town hospitals.
This past Saturday, police found Essex resident Robert M. Fitzgerald Jr. behind the wheel of a parked but running vehicle while allegedly under the influence of drugs about 3:40 a.m.
“Fitzgerald was passed out in the drivers seat of the vehicle with the keys in the ignition. His head was leaning forward and nodding even though the drivers seat was reclined, and his legs had slight tremors,” Officer Christopher Liacos wrote in the report.
Police opened the drivers’ side door on the vehicle, a Mercedes, to check on Fitzgerald’s condition. Officers said Fitzgerald took “several” minutes to wake up as officers spoke to him. When asked if he had been drinking, Fitzgerald said he had. But, when officers then questioned Fitzgerald about how much alcohol he had consumed, he said he had not been drinking at all.
Fitzgerald failed four field sobriety tests, to which he submitted voluntarily, according to police. His pupils were dilated and police described his behavior as “lethargic,” according to the police report.
After determining that Fitzgerald had been driving while under the influence of drugs, police searched his vehicle and found a prescription bottle containing 6 oxycontin pills. The bottle warned patients against taking the pills with alcohol.
The June 1 crash involving Fitzgerald led to his being transported to a Boston hospital on an emergency helicopter flight.
Fitzgerald had been driving on Washington Street just before midnight that night, when he began accelerating and his black 2012 Chevrolet pickup truck struck and bounced off a stone wall, before hitting another wall and spinning three times, according to a witness who was in another vehicle.
Fitzgerald and his 25-year-old female passenger were both trapped in the vehicle when police arrived. The airbags in the truck’s dashboard and sides of the vehicle had deployed. The truck’s windshield had been dented outward in a star shape, with strands of hair still stuck in the broken glass, according to police.
Police said the woman’s head had apparently struck the windshield, causing that breakage. She, in turn, told police that Fitzgerald was driving on Washington Street when he began accelerating and she attempted to get his attention, but “he seemed to be in a trance and not responding.”
Police found small bottles of trenbolone acetate, equipoise, deca durabolin, testosterone enanthate and needles, one uncapped, in the vehicle. Police also found a white powder, which they suspect to be heroin, and “several” hypodermic needles in the vehicle. That bag had blood stains on it, police said.
Fitzgerald is charged with operating under the influence of drugs, operating so as to endanger with serious bodily injury, failure to stay within marked lanes, and illegal possession of class A and class E substances. Further charges could be pending, depending on state police investigation results, authorities said.
The passenger in Fitzgerald’s vehicle has not faced any charges. She was transported to Beverly Hospital after the crash with head and facial injuries, but was released from the hospital in the following days.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.