Two incidents at the Great Geauga County Fair over Labor Day weekend illustrated the county’s first responders’ dedication to their motto to “serve and protect.”

Even before the fair officially kicked off on Aug. 29, the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office was looking to stop a dangerous drug from becoming part of this year’s fun, Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand said.

And, before it was over, first responders likely saved the life of one of the fairgoers, he said.

Sheriff Hildenbrand said deputies acted early that Thursday to execute a warrant from the U.S. Marshal’s Service for one of the game operators. On making the arrest, he said, deputies found the game operator with a small amount of heroin.

The game operator, he said, alerted deputies to the source of the heroin, telling them a man was coming to the fair to supply the drug to willing customers.

Instead, the department’s detectives set up a sting operation to catch the supplier, he said.

Arranging a sale with the supplier, detectives met with the man across from the fairgrounds.

Despite catching the man red-handed, the man did not go willingly, Sheriff Hildenbrand said.

It took five deputies to wrestle the man to the ground before they could make the arrest.

Sheriff Hildenbrand said deputies sustained minor injuries, such as scraped elbows and knees.

The man was found to be in possession of 5 grams of heroin, which Sheriff Hildrenbrand said was “hot,” or laced with fentanyl. The suspect also had crack cocaine and marijuana on him when the arrest was made.

Andre Johnson, 38, of Youngstown, was charged with resisting arrest, trafficking in drugs and assault in connection with the incident.

“We’re happy we got him out of there at the beginning of the fair and kept heroin and fentanyl out of the fairgrounds, Sheriff Hildenbrand said.

The sheriff said first responders also came to the rescue of a fairgoer who had collapsed by the dairy barn later in the fair.

He said first responders from UH hospitals responded to the scene with EMTs from the Burton and Montville fire departments.

Initiating mechanical CPR to the woman, Sheriff Hildenbrand said, the unconscious woman was talking by the time they placed her in an ambulance.

“It was a team effort and saved this lady’s life,” Sheriff Hildenbrand said.

Joseph Koziol Jr. started his career in journalism in 1981. He joined the Solon Times in 1992 and covered the city of Solon for 10 years. An award winning reporter, Mr. Koziol has been covering Geauga County since 2012.

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