Man Crashes Car, Is Arrested After Police Discover He Was Traveling With Dead Body

An Ohio man was arrested after he crashed his vehicle along a highway, prompting authorities to discover that he had been traveling with a dead passenger.

John D. Polen, 31, crashed his gray Honda Accord along Interstate 470 in Belmont County, Ohio at around 4:40 p.m. on Monday, Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Brice Nihiser told Newsweek.

Troopers located the vehicle after it traveled off the right side of the highway, struck an exit sign and overturned.

The body of David Allen Saunders was ejected from the vehicle in the crash. Authorities initially assumed that 36-year-old Saunders, of St. Clairsville, Ohio, had died as a result of the crash.

But the Belmont County Coroner determined that Saunders had been dead for several hours when the crash occurred.

"During an investigation of the crash, it was determined by the Belmont County Coroner that a passenger, who was ejected from the vehicle, was deceased prior to the crash occurring," Nihiser said.

No cause of death has yet been released for Saunders. Matt Arbenz, the chief of the St. Clairsville Police Department, told Newsweek that an official cause of death will not be released until an autopsy is completed at the end of the week.

But he said the "indications and information thus far are pointing to an overdose."

Saunders had been reported missing to the police department on Monday afternoon, Arbenz added.

"We were in process of investigating [and] had already obtained information that he may be deceased and at the apartment owned by Mr. Polen," he said.

"Our officers were on standby at the apartment waiting for a search warrant to be signed when we were informed of the crash on 470."

Polen, also of St. Clairsville, was taken to Wheeling Medical Park in Wheeling, West Virginia for injuries sustained in the crash. He was then taken into custody on an arrest warrant out of Belmont County.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol has charged Polen with impaired driving, Nihiser confirmed.

He is also facing charges including offenses against a human corpse, local news station WTRF reported.

Arbenz said any additional charges for Polen with be determined by the Belmont County Prosecutor's Office after the autopsy report is complete.

Polen was arraigned in Ohio County Magistrate Court on a fugitive from justice charge on Tuesday, according to WTRF. He remains in custody in Ohio's Northern Regional Jail without bond.

Stock photo. An Ohio man was arrested after he crashed his vehicle along an Ohio highway, promoting authorities to discover he had been traveling with a dead passenger. Getty