Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
Motorcycle fatal crash probe continues
By Margie Wuebker
A motorcyclist trying to outrun Minster police during the early morning hours of June 7 was traveling at least 77 miles per hour before he fatally crashed in the Minster Industrial Park.
The speed was determined as part of an investigation by the Wapakoneta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, which released its findings Tuesday.
Also undergoing investigation is how Minster police officers handled the high-speed pursuit.
Minster Police Chief Randy Houseworth expects to deliver a completed internal investigation to the Auglaize County Prosecutor's Office today or tomorrow. The internal review was conducted to determine whether officers violated the department's pursuit policy. He declined to comment on the findings pending grand jury review.
Both Lt. Scott Carrico, commander of the Wapakoneta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and Houseworth said all fatal accidents occurring in the county receive grand jury consideration.
Nathan P. Thobe, 25, 7967 state Route 119, Maria Stein, was pronounced dead shortly after 4 a.m. at Joint Township District Memorial Hospital in St. Marys. Auglaize County Coroner Dr. Thomas Freytag listed the cause of death as a cervical spine fracture.
The high-speed pursuit began at 2:58 a.m. on West First Street near the intersection of Cleveland Street when Thobe reportedly failed to stop for a stop sign. He continued through town and into the village industrial park, where the crash occurred when he attempted to negotiate a sharp curve.
The Kawasaki Ninja struck the curb and ejected the motorcyclist who was wearing a helmet. He landed approximately 75 feet from the point of impact, Carrico said.
Carrico said a crash reconstruction specialist determined the minimum speed by taking into account several factors including the length of skid marks left on the road and the distance the motorcycle traveled during the crash before overturning and coming to rest.
"He apparently locked up the brakes and started to skid," Carrico told The Daily Standard this morning.
The posted speed limit at the crash site is 25 miles per hour.
Additionally, Thobe's blood-alcohol concentration was 0.17 at the time of the accident, twice the legal limit of 0.08 at which a person is considered intoxicated.
The pursuit of Thobe was initiated by Patrolman Chris Fetters, who has been with the department just over a year.
Sgt. Kirby Cummins, a two-year veteran, also was on duty but did not take part in the pursuit. He, like responding officers from the New Bremen and Fort Loramie police departments, attempted to slow speeds with rolling road blocks. Thobe reportedly escaped from Fetters at one point but was spotted by other officers shortly before the crash, Houseworth said.
The state patrol has completed its investigation of the accident, Carrico said.