Monday, March 17th, 2008
4 area people die; two others charged
By Margie Wuebker
Grieving friends and Marion Local High School students write condolence messages. . .
A Chickasaw man will be in court this afternoon to face four counts of aggravated vehicular homicide after a crash early Saturday morning that killed four Maria Stein teenagers.
Nicholas Schwieterman, 22, remains incarcerated on a $1 million bond and is under close watch while dealing with the tragedy and his first experience in a jail cell, according to Sheriff Jeff Grey. Schwieterman will appear at 1:30 p.m. in Celina Municipal Court.
The two-car crash occurred at the intersection of County Road 716A and Brockman Road, north of St. Sebastian.
Pronounced dead at the scene were the driver Jordan M. Moeller, 18, 8399 Brockman Road, Chickasaw, and his passengers: Jordan M. Diller, 19, 1553 state Route 716, Maria Stein; Jordan Goettemoeller, 19, 7766 Fort Recovery-Minster Road, Maria Stein; and Bradley Roeckner, 19, 8425 Brockman Road, Chickasaw.
Moeller was driving northbound on County Road 716A when his 1995 Pontiac Grand Prix was struck by a westbound 1996 Pontiac Bonneville driven by Schwieterman of 90 S. Maple St., Chickasaw. Schwieterman reportedly failed to stop at a posted stop sign on Brockman Road. Alcohol is suspected as a factor in the crash.
The impact reportedly forced the Moeller car downward leaving a trail of red paint on the pavement from the driver's side undercarriage. The car then traveled off the left side of the pavement and jumped a deep ditch before coming to rest 30 to 35 feet away in a plowed field. Schwieterman's car also traveled off the road and became wedged between a utility pole and the steep ditch bank.
Ambulances from St. Henry and Coldwater as well as the Chickasaw Fire Department responded to the scene shortly after receiving the 911 call around 3 a.m. The firefighters quickly realized Roeckner, a junior member of the department, was among the victims.
Rick Roeckner, the young man's father and a Chickasaw volunteer firefighter, also came to the scene and had a bad feeling upon seeing the twisted red Grand Prix that bore some similarities to the vehicle that frequently stood in his driveway.
"It was the kind of run you dread going to," he told The Daily Standard. "You always pray the occupants are not people you know. The chief had one of the guys keep me away from the car and that gave me a real bad feeling. That confirmed my worst fears."
Schwieterman and his lone passenger, 21-year-old Kyle Schmitmeyer, 7915 Clover Four Road, Celina, were taken by ambulance to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater for treatment of minor injuries. Both were taken to the Mercer County Jail upon their release from the emergency room.
Schmitmeyer, who is charged with obstructing justice, was released from custody Saturday after posting 10 percent of a $75,000 bond. His court appearance will take place Thursday morning.
The investigation is continuing, according to Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey, who suspects alcohol may be a factor in the accident. He is awaiting the result of blood tests performed at the hospital. Fog settled into the area shortly after the crash but was not a factor when the cars collided at the flat intersection bordered on one side by a woods.
Both cars were towed to an unspecified location for examination. Grey has requested assistance from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification in testing. The vehicles will be inspected and an inventory of the contents completed following the issuance of a search warrant.
Grey could not say whether the four occupants of the Moeller car were using seat belts at the time of the crash because the bodies were being extricated from the wreckage as deputies arrived on the scene.
Also responding to the scene were Mercer County Coroner Dr. Timothy Heinrichs, Andy Hinders and Matt Fox of the Mercer County Prosecutors Office and Mercer County Emergency Response Volunteers. Pastor Randy Christian accompanied a deputy in notifying the families.
"This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the families," Grey said. "Marion is a strong community and I am sure the people of this community will pull together to help all of the families involved."
The deaths represent Mercer County's first four traffic fatalities of 2008.