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Man charged after deputies sickened

NEWTON FALLS — A man involved in a Jan. 18 drug overdose call at Blue Water Manor Mobile Home Park that sickened three Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office deputies who were exposed to a suspected opioid, was arraigned Monday in Newton Falls Municipal Court.

The three deputies are OK and are back at work, according to Trumbull County Chief Deputy Joseph Dragovich.

Martin E. Higinbotham, 47, of Anaheim, Calif., was charged with three felony counts of assault of a police officer and one count tampering with evidence, in which no pleas were submitted. Higinbotham pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, drug abuse and disorderly conduct during an emergency, court records show.

The defendant appeared without an attorney, the court record shows, and Municipal Judge Philip Vigorito set bond at $25,000.

As a condition of bond, Higinbotham is not to use or possess intoxicants, the court record states.

Higinbotham will be back in court at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

According to a sheriff’s report, three deputies and two officers from Newton Falls Police Department responded shortly after 6 p.m. Jan. 18 to 120 Kings Drive SW after a woman called to report a man there was overdosing on heroin. Higinbotham was found unconscious, lying on his back on the living room floor, the report states, and snoring unresponsively with multiple medical devices nearby.

Emergency medical technicians were also on the scene, trying to get the victim’s vitals, the report states. EMTs told deputies they had used several doses of Narcan trying to revive Higinbotham.

As deputies collected evidence in the living room, the report states, the man woke up, asking deputies “What the (expletive) are you doing in my house?”

The report states the man then kicked the glass coffee table where a suspicious brown powdery substance lay. The substance went airborne directly in front of two deputies’ faces, the report states.

As the man was trying to be subdued, the report states, the man yelled: “That ain’t no (expletive) heroin, that’s fentanyl!”.

Shortly after, two deputies complained they were not feeling well, the report states, and were instructed to go to Warren Township Police Department where they were picked up by a third deputy who was at the overdose scene. The report states the three deputies — Sgt. Bobby Ross, and deputies Dennis Garito and Brian Galida — were treated at St. Joseph Warren Hospital for exposure to suspected fentanyl.

At the hospital, the report states, the deputies submitted urine samples and were all given face masks and protective suits. The three were then taken to separate decontamination units at the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office where they showered and were given new protective gear. The deputies’ three cruisers were also towed to the engineer’s office lot where the vehicles were wrapped in yellow caution tape until they were cleaned and sterilized the next day, according to Dragovich.

Dragovich said the three deputies did not destroy the uniforms that were worn during the incident.

Higinbotham also was treated at St. Joseph before he was released to Trumbull County Jail, the report states. Dragovich said Higinbotham has since been transferred out of county because of outstanding court warrants.

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