Times Bulletin Staff Report
VAN WERT - Area law enforcement has been busy over the past two days with a truck/train collision and another fatal crash at a Paulding County intersection. A wrong-way driver responsible for the a crash that killed himself and three others had a blood-alcohol level four times the legal limit. And in Celina, the long-time police chief has been suspended with pay during a misconduct investigation.
Around 2:10 a.m. Friday, a green 2000 Ford Ranger pickup was struck on the railroad tracks by an eastbound train in the 100 block of E. Jackson St. in Van Wert. The impact occurred about 240 feet west of N. Market St., according to a release from Van Wert Police. The driver of the truck was able to get out of the vehicle before the train hit the vehicle and was not injured.Police are still looking for more information about the crash. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Van Wert Police Department at (419) 238-2462.
On Thursday, a Cecil woman was killed around 5:30 p.m. in a crash at the intersection of U.S. 24 and Paulding Co. Rd. 87. The intersection is the same location as a 14-car pileup that took the life of a Paulding woman two weeks ago.
Thursday afternoon, Tiffini E. Aldrich, 21, Cecil, was driving her 1996 Geo Prism northbound on the county road and attempted to cross the four-lane highway. She pulled into the path of a westbound tractor-trailer rig driven by Roy Pierre, 44, Quebec, Canada. The rig was hauling approximately 33,000 pounds of freight.
The truck struck the Prism, and the impact killed a passenger in the car, Kayla A. Bidlack, 30, also of Cecil. Aldrich, who is reportedly six months pregnant, was flown to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne with life-threatening injuries. The truck driver was not reported as injured. That crash is still under investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
In Celina, long-time Police Chief David Slusser has been placed on paid leave while an investigation into his alleged misconduct is conducted, according to an Internet report. Few details are available in the case, but Slusser was placed on administrative leave on Feb. 14 by Celina Safety-Service Director Tom Hitchcock.
A letter from Hitchcock to Slusser states that the investigate is "regarding potential job-related misconduct" and instructs him to surrender his service weapon, badge, police identification, and keys and to remain available and comply with the investigation. Slusser joined the Celina Police Department in 1978 and has served as chief since 1991.
In a separate matter, Celina Police Patrolman Andy Regedanz is also on administrative leave, as of Jan. 23, 2013. A letter from Hitchcock states that the leave is "as a result of unusual behavior on your part while at work, which could result in disciplinary action and/or possible criminal charges." Regedanz, who has been with the department since 2001, is also being required to take a psychological evaluation.
The OSHP now says the driver who drove the wrong way on Interstate 75 in Montgomery County and crashed into a family heading to see relatives in St. Mary's for Christmas had a blood alcohol level content of .346 - more than four times the legal limit. The Montgomery County Coroner's Office has confirmed that the driver responsible for the crash that took four lives, Joshua Nkansah, 40, Fairfield, Ohio was severely intoxicated at the time of the Dec. 23 crash.
Nkansah began driving his 1997 Dodge minivan the wrong-way on I-75 near milepost 35 in Warren County. He struck a 2000 Chrysler minivan head-on killing Michelle and Scott Barhorst of Madisonville, Tenn. Nkansah and his seven-year-old son, David were also killed as a result of the crash. Four children in the Barhorst vehicle and one additional child in the Nkansah vehicle received serious injury, but survived the crash. The Barhorsts were heading to a family Christmas celebration in St. Mary's when the collision occurred.
"Impaired driving has life altering consequences, as demonstrated in this horrible crash," said Col. John Born, patrol superintendent. "This crash underscores the Patrol's resolve to remove these dangerous drivers from Ohio's roadways."