High School Coach Drives Drunk, Gets a Lift

elk-memorial-coachThey certainly take high school basketball seriously in Indiana, as evidenced when the police drove a coach to a game following his arrest for a DUI. Elkhart Memorial High School’s coach Mark Barnhizer was taken on Saturday from jail straight to the game on the authorization of Elkart’s assistant police chief and at the request of Elkhart Community Schools.

“We felt you shouldn’t penalize 10 young adults for the mistakes of one person,” Tim Balyeat, the assistant police chief said, who added that the ride from the police was warranted due to the impact the schools and athletics have on the community.

Barnhizer, in his 25 year coaching at Elkhart, made it to the game, with 4 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, Elkhart ultimately lost to Munster 48-39. Good thing he made it! The team really benefited from his appearance.

The night before Barnhizer was arrested after a sheriff’s deputy observed him making an unsafe lane change. While he passed a blood-alcohol test he was arrested after being administered a “drug-recognition test,” whatever that is. Barnhizer also told the police that he takes a prescription for methadone.

While methadone is not used exclusively for heroin addiction–it is sometimes used for chronic pain due to its low cost–it’s a strange drug for a high school coach to be taking.

In his defense, Barnhizer said that he was reaching over for a gallon of milk that fell over and that caused the swerving. “I haven’t had a drink in 10 years,” Barnhizer said. Also, he has reportedly suffered continuing pain from foot surgeries several years ago; hence the methadone.

Yesterday Barnhizer was officially charged with driving while intoxicated and driving while suspended. This isn’t his first driving incident though. After the jump, his rap sheet:

  • 10/23/05 – Driving offense in Alabama. Cleared 6/1/07.
  • 9/8/06 – Driving while suspended/failed to appear in court. Resulted in another active suspension.
  • 10/13/06 – Speeding & driving with suspended license. Resulted in another active suspension.
  • 10/13/06 – Failure to appear in court. Resulted in another active suspension.
  • 1/2/07 – Speeding and driving while suspended. Resulted in another active suspension.
  • 5/5/08 – Failure to pay driving while suspended ticket. Resulted in another active suspension.
  • 5/5/08 – Failure to pay for running stop sign. Resulted in another active suspension.
  • 10/16/08 – Failure to complete Defensive Driving Class. Resulted in another active suspension.
  • The BMV in Indiana also says it mailed 8 suspension notifications over the past 3 years to Barnhizer’s last known address

[AP and WSBT]

2 Responses to “High School Coach Drives Drunk, Gets a Lift”

  1. 1 heidi
    March 21, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    He wasn’t driving DRUNK. Recheck your BMV report… and the WON the first game against Valpo and lost in the finals. The South Bend police also ran lights and sirens to get Skylar Diggins her shoes she forgot and brought them to her Plymouth

    • March 21, 2009 at 2:50 pm

      well, since based on your email it seems patently obvious that you’re related to Coach Barnhizer, I’d say you’re a bit biased. That said, he still was driving erratic, drunk or not, likely related to the methadone no?

      also, what does it say about priorities for this town that the basketball coach and some rando girl who forgot her shoes get preferential treatment from the coppers?

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