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More Breaking NewsCounty commissioner arrested for drunk driving

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Deputy: Fortwendel asked several times to be taken home instead of jail

By Vince Luecke

NEW BOSTON - A Perry County commissioner was arrested for driving drunk early Sunday after a one-vehicle accident on Indiana 545 north of New Boston.

Louis J. "Jody" Fortwendel, 57, of 16870 Avery Ridge Road, Tell City, was lodged in the Spencer County Jail on charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and with an open container of alcohol.

According to an accident report by Spencer County Sheriff's Deputy Brandon Dickson, Fortwendel was driving south just before 1 a.m. when his Chevrolet van traveled off the right side of the road and struck a ditch.

Another motorist called the Tell City Police Department at 12:46 a.m. to report the accident and the call was relayed to Spencer County’s dispatch center at Rockport. Spencer County EMS and St. Meinrad volunteer firemen were dispatched to the scene but later told to disregard the report. Fortwendel, who is the county’s District 3 commissioner, was not injured.

According to Dickson, Fortwendel said the accident occurred when he swerved to miss a deer. As he exited the van, Fortwendel staggered and his speech was slurred, said Dickson, who said he also smelled alcohol.

"I asked the driver if he had been drinking. The driver told me no, he had not been drinking," Dickson wrote in his report.

Dickson said he later saw alcoholic-beverage containers on the back floorboard of the vehicle and reported finding two full containers of alcohol and one empty container.

Fortwendel’s blood-alcohol concentration measured .22 percent at the scene, the case report stated, nearly three times the legal limit. He was handcuffed but the officer later removed the cuffs after Fortwendel complained of pain to his hands.

Fortwendel allegedly asked several times to be taken home instead of jail, telling Dickson and Reserve Deputy Mike Miles that he was a county commissioner and didn’t want the incident to become public. Dickson said he would take Fortwendel to the Spencer County Jail for another chemical test.

"I then told him that results of the test would determine if he would go home or be arrested for operating while intoxicated. Mr. Fortwendel asked me several times to let him go home."

The wrecker arrived at 1:36 a.m. and Fortwendel later tested .19 percent at the jail, the report states.