CINCINNATI -- The driver going the wrong way on I-71 when she caused a fatal, head-on crash Wednesday morning was arraigned Thursday on charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and held on a $300,000 bond, authorities said.
Taryn Chin, 22, of Cincinnati, was driving a minivan northbound in the southbound lanes when she struck 47-year-old Jose Arenas Perez's car about 3 a.m., according to police investigators. The crash occurred just south of the Dana Avenue exit.
Police believe that alcohol played a role and were also testing for drug use, Lt. Bruce Hoffbauer said.
Multiple 911 calls between 2:20 and 2:30 a.m. reported a minivan driving south in the northbound lanes as far north as exit 12 (Montgomery Road near Kenwood Towne Center). The collision occurred in the southbound lanes near exit 5 (Dana Avenue), meaning the mother of two young children apparently got off the interstate, turned around and headed north in the southbound lanes.
Perez, of Florence, Kentucky, was on his way home from work at Cintas. He died at the scene.
Chin suffered only minor injuries and was treated at the scene, Hoffbauer said. She told officers she had at least four or five drinks and shouldn't have been driving. Police found her blood alcohol level was above the legal limit for driving.
Both drivers had been wearing seatbelts.
Hoffbauer said it didn't appear that either driver had braked before the crash.
"You don't really anticipate a car traveling the wrong way on the interstate at 3 o'clock in the morning," Hoffbauer said.
Police were working to determine where Chin was coming from and where she got onto I-71 in the wrong direction, Hoffbauer said. She was being cooperative with investigators and had agreed to submit a urine test checking for drug use.
Perez worked at Cintas for more than 20 years. He was bilingual and helped other employees who had a hard time translating English or Spanish. Company spokesperson Michelle Goret said Perez had a strong ethic and always had a great attitude. His wife has also worked at Cintas for the past five years.
"It's just a really sad day for us," Goret said. "He touched a lot of people. He was, from a work standpoint, an extremely hard worker, always willing to help go the extra mile."
A memorial fund for Perez has been set up at U.S. Bank.
Cincinnati Police are continuing their investigation.