Hit-and-run driver found passed out with syringe, but released with traffic tickets

Mike Perlstein talks about a dramatic crash caught on tape, where a man is seen passed out behind the wheel.

NEW ORLEANS -- Four days before the son of St. Bernard Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann was found dead in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward of an apparent drug overdose – still holding a syringe – another case was videotaped by a witness in the same neighborhood.

In that case, driver Colin Mathison, 27, can be seen passed out with a syringe in his hand after he rammed a parked car and took out a utility pole.

The cell phone video shot by Myron Granger at the corner of Pauline and Marais streets also shows firefighters arriving and rendering aid to the passed-out driver, only to have Mathison regain consciousness and speed off.

“Complete shock,” Granger said. “I never saw anything like that in my life. And I've been in this area my whole entire life.”

A police accident report shows that Mathison smashed two more cars about five blocks up the street, then jumps out and tries to jump a fence to elude police officers.

“The officer ordered the subject, later identified as Colin Mathison, down from the fence,” the report states. “The subject complied. The officer asked the subject what he was doing climbing the fence and the subject replied, ‘Being an idiot.’”

During the arrest, Mathison’s father, Tim Mathison, arrived at the scene, according to witnesses. The elder Mathison, chief administrative officer of the City of Slidell, is the owner of the car, according to the police report. He did not respond to calls for comment.

Granger showed both Mathison’s father and the responding police officers the video of the syringe and Mathison peeling off. He said he was surprised to learn that Mathison was booked only with traffic violations for hit-and-run, reckless operation and driving without a license.

Court records also show that Mathison was released with hours of his Sept. 1 arrest on a court order, meaning no bail was required.

“Well, it’s obvious he more than just violates traffic,” Granger said. “He almost killed a guy up the street. If this lady had been in her car (the first one hit), she would have been seriously injured. Not to mention we’re right next to a school.”

“Then he had drugs on him,” Granger said. “I don’t think it’s fair.”

The NOPD did not address whether additional charges might be applicable relating to the syringe seen in the video, or Mathison’s attempt to flee first responders.

The accident and arrest took place about 10 blocks from where police on Monday found the body of Justin Pohlmann, son of St. Bernard Sheriff Jimmy Pohlmann. Like Mathison, he was found slumped over in a parked car.

Police said Pohlmann was found in the 2500 block of Piety Street, an area surrounded by empty lots and abandoned houses.

Officers found a syringe in Pohlmann’s possession, and EMS pronounced him dead at the scene. The Orleans Parish Coroner will investigate and determine the cause of death.

Justin Pohlmann, 31, had an ongoing addiction problem, acknowledged by his father when he was arrested for burglary in 2013 in St. Bernard Parish.

Sheriff Pohlmann could not be reached for comment.

(© 2016 WWL)


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