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Parkway district ranger charged with drug possession

Parkway district ranger charged with drug possession

A Blue Ridge Parkway district ranger was arrested in Tennessee last year following a traffic accident in which he was under the influence of alcohol and in possession of drugs, according to public records. However, charges stemming from the incident were later dismissed. 

Greg Wozniak has served as Pisgah District Ranger since fall 2014, when he first began working for the Parkway. In that position, he supervises all law enforcement operations for the portion of the parkway between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee and the Linville Falls Visitor Center near Marion.  According to a crash report, the crash occurred at 8:18 p.m. June 12, 2018, when Wozniak, traveling south on Hall of Fame Drive in Knoxville, attempted to turn left onto the I-40 East ramp. However, in making the turn his Toyota Tacoma hit a vehicle traveling straight through the light, a Dodge 350 pulling an equipment trailer. 

Both vehicles suffered “disabling damage,” valued at greater than $400, according to the report. Neither driver required medical transport; the driver of the Dodge had no injury but Wozniak had a “possible injury.”

“Driver of Vehicle #1 (Wozniak) stated he had a green turn arrow, and Driver of Vehicle #2 stated he had green traffic signal,” the report said. “There were no witnesses on scene to determine which vehicle had the right of way.”

While the report states “no” under categories titled “presence of alcohol” and “presence of drugs” for the driver of the Dodge, the same is not true for Wozniak. The report states that Wozniak “had been drinking” and that there was presence of alcohol, but that no alcohol test was given.  In the “presence of drugs” category, the report says “unknown.” It goes on to state that the determination method for presence of drugs is “unknown” and that no test was given.

However, the arrest report filed that same day offers more detail as to whether drugs were present. According to the report, the Dodge driver told officers that after the accident, Wozniak exited his vehicle, took a box out and threw that box into the bushes. Wozniak then went into the bushes and retrieved the box, throwing it off the interstate bridge on the roadway below, the driver said.When officers walked to the edge of the bridge, they saw a burgundy tackle box lying on the roadway, the report said.

“Officer (Stephen) Mercado arrived on scene and retrieved a burgundy tackle box for fishing. Officer Mercado found the box opened on the roadway, and observed that the box contained what appeared to be a baggie of marijuana. The box also contained a baggie of what appeared to be mushrooms and an unopened package of gummie worms believed to be THC edibles.”

The contents amounted to 10.1 grams of marijuana, 6.1 grams of mushrooms and six THC edibles, the report said. Wozniak was taken into custody and charged with two counts of simple possession/casual exchange — one for marijuana, one for other drugs — class A misdemeanors with a combined bail of $1,500. However, the charges were dismissed following a hearing July 20, 2018.

“The Blue Ridge Parkway is aware of an off-duty incident involving Ranger Wozniak,” said Leesa Brandon, public information officer for the Parkway. “Parkway Management is taking all appropriate steps to address the situation in accordance with Federal regulations, policies and procedures.”

Following the incident, Wozniak was “assigned to other duties,” with a different ranger taking over as Acting District Ranger on June 13, Brandon said in an email July 23, 2018. In the same email — sent three days after the dismisssal of charges — Brandon said there was “currently not an estimated end date for the Acting Pisgah Ranger District assignment.”

When The Smoky Mountain News called the Parkway’s dispatch office March 14 to ask who the current Pisgah District Ranger is, the ranger answering the phone said that Wozniak is in that role. However, said Brandon, that's not correct. Brandon said that Wozniak is currently assigned to a different role within the Parkway and is not performing any law enforcement duties. Ranger Chuck Hester is serving as acting district ranger, she said. 

Wozniak did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment. This story will be updated as more information is available.

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