Fiery crash

Foam covers the area after a fiery two-vehicle crash on Interstate 71 in the early morning hours of June 27 near the Richland/Morrow county line.

MANSFIELD -- A Mansfield man was under the influence of methamphetamine when he allegedly drove the wrong way on Interstate 71 and ran head-on into an Ohio State Highway Patrol cruiser June 27, authorities said Monday.

"Michael Marchak had presumptive levels of both methamphetamine and another amphetamine in his blood test," Ohio State Highway Patrol staff Lt. Craig Cvetan said Monday morning.

Marchak, 36, whose lengthy past driving record includes two DUIs, was driving on a suspended license when he collided with Trooper Jason Phillips, 23, at 2:49 a.m. near the Morrow/Richland County line.

Phillips was dispatched from the Mount Gilead Post at 2:45 a.m. to look for a potentially-impaired driver near mile post 155, according to the 14-page accident investigation report.

Phillips was then struck head-on by Marchak, who was reportedly driving south in the northbound lanes.

Both vehicles caught fire and both men were critically injured. Phillips was still listed in critical condition Monday, but he continues to progress in treatment, according to Cvetan.

Marchak was taken to OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital. His condition was not available Monday morning.

The accident report said testing did not indicate Marchak had alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.

Marchak's driving infractions date back to 2000, when he was convicted of a DUI as a juvenile. He was convicted of a second DUI in 2004 in Franklin County, according to Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicle records obtained by Richland Source.

Most recently, he was convicted in 2018 in Mansfield Municipal Court for failure to control and driving on a suspended license. BMV records show his license has been suspended multiple times in the past.

Marchak was convicted of speeding in Mansfield in 2001 and 2013, driving 70 mph in a 55 mph zone in the second offense. He was found guilty in 2001 in Norwalk Municipal Court for driving a vehicle without the owner's consent.

He also has a felony record in Richland County Common Pleas Court, convicted of theft/forgery in 2004, drug possession in 2004 and drug trafficking (heroin) in 2013.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"