Vallonia man faces neglect, operating while intoxicated charges

A Vallonia man was arrested after a state trooper found him passed out behind the wheel of a vehicle and traveling with his young child.

Derek W. Ribelin, 34, faces Level 6 felony charges of operating while intoxicated impairment with a passenger younger than 18, neglect of a dependent and possession of marijuana along with misdemeanor charges of operating while intoxicated and possession of a handgun without a permit.

According to a news release from Indiana State Police Sgt. Cary Huls, public information officer for the Sellersburg Post, Sgt. Tracy Spencer was patrolling nortbound Interstate 65 near Scottsburg around 9:50 p.m. Wednesday when he observed a vehicle stopped along the right side of the roadway with its flashers on.

Spencer stopped to check the vehicle, and upon approaching the driver’s side, he found the driver either asleep or passed out behind the wheel, Huls said.

The driver’s 9-month-old son was standing on his lap crying and banging on the window, Huls said.

After several attempts, Spencer was able to wake the driver, later identified as Ribelin. Police said Ribelin appeared to be intoxicated, and Spencer found an open alcoholic beverage container sitting on the passenger seat.

Officers with the Scottsburg Police Department and Scott County Sheriff’s Office arrived to assist, and Spencer continued the investigation, which included standard field sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test. The latter resulted in a blood alcohol content of 0.136%, Huls said.

Spencer then transported Ribelin to Scott Memorial Health in Scottsburg and obtained an official blood draw. Officers who remained at the scene also found a loaded pistol in the driver’s side door pocket, Huls said.

The child was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Scottsburg for observation and in a short time was released to the biological mother, Huls said.

Ribelin was taken to the Scott County Detention Center in Scottsburg, where he was being held without bond. His initial court appearance was scheduled for today at the Scott County Courthouse.

Find the story in Saturday’s Tribune.