Report gives details on prosecutor’s drunken driving arrest

Southwest Michigan

St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough. (2015 file)

THREE RIVERS, Mich. (WOOD) — A police report obtained by News 8 via the Freedom of Information Act is providing new details into the night St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough was arrested with drunken driving.  

McDonough was driving down Lovers Lane on the night of May 11 when he claims he had a coughing fit according to dispatch audio released a few days after the crash

The scene after a single-vehicle crash on Lovers Lane near Tamarac Lane in Lockport Township on May 11, 2020. St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough was arrested following this incident.
The scene after a single-vehicle crash on Lovers Lane near Tamarac Lane in Lockport Township on May 11, 2020. St. Joseph County Prosecutor John McDonough was arrested following this incident.

The first deputy to arrive in the area was a St. Joseph County captain who found the crash scene but could not locate the driver. 

Witnesses and McDonough himself had identified him as the driver of a black Mercedes SUV that hit the fence, investigators say.

Capt. Terry Baker drove to McDonough’s house to see if he returned home but did not find the SUV in the driveway.  

>>>PDF: Read the entire police report here

Baker was passed by a St. Joseph County deputy on his way back to the scene. When he returned, McDonough’s car was now parked on Lovers Lane near where the crash had happened, the report stated.

Two witnesses also saw McDonough leaving the scene of the crash shortly after it happened. The homeowner approached, McDonough making sure he was alright and offering help. McDonough said he was “fine and would make arrangements to take care of the fence” before driving away, according to the report.

A second witness was driving towards the crash scene and saw McDonough’s black SUV “driving southbound in the northbound lanes of Buckhorn Road” near the intersection with Lovers Lane. Shortly after she arrived at the crash site on Lovers Lane to talk with the homeowner, McDonough came back to the scene and parked his car, the report said.

According to records, the responding deputy asked McDonough if he would take a field sobriety test. McDonough refused due to a leg injury. The deputy then asked McDonough if he would agree to a “horizontal gaze nystagmus task.”

McDonough did agree to that test. But the deputy noted he would “not hold his head still” and that he believed McDonough ” was doing this intentionally so he would not show nystagmus at maximum deviation” due to his job experience. The deputy said the test was inconclusive, the report stated.

McDonough agreed to a Portable Breath Test (PBT). He blew a .107  blood alcohol content at the crash site. Michigan’s legal limit is .08. He was given another breath test approximately 40 minutes later at the Three Rivers Police Department where he blew a .07 followed by .06, police say.

McDonough told deputies he only had one mixed drink around 11 a.m.  After being read his Miranda rights, McDonough told deputies it may have been after 11 a.m. but it was early in the afternoon, the report stated.

Deputies searched McDonough’s SUV and found a bottle of Coca-Cola behind the passenger seat within reach of the driver.

The deputy opened the 20-ounce bottle and was able to “smell the odor of intoxicants.” The deputy then used the PBT in passive mode to confirm the presence of alcohol. McDonough told deputies if there was an open intoxicant found in the vehicle it “wasn’t from today,” according to investigators.

The responding deputies both knew McDonough through professional relationships. One of the deputies wrote in his report, “Mr. McDonough was very respectful but made sure only to answer questions that were asked and didn’t elaborate any further unless asked too,” the report said.

According to the report, both deputies said they could smell the faint order of intoxicants coming from his person and he didn’t seem to be “acting himself” when they made contact.

The report says McDonough’s speech was very slow and he moved very deliberately, which “appeared to be out of character for him.”

McDonough was arrested on charges of operating while intoxicated and open intoxicants. He was transported to the Cass County Jail.

He waved his arraignment and will be in court for a pre-trial hearing on July 24.

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