Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
By Margie Wuebker
Fleeing from officers nets man prison time
  A Minster man who led authorities on a high-speed chase before crashing into a brick wall at a condominium complex is headed to prison. And he won't be driving any time soon due to a 50-year operator's license suspension.
Austin Shortridge, 21, 170 S. Hanover St., Minster, appeared in Auglaize County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday morning after pleading no contest earlier to one count of fleeing and eluding, a third-degree felony.
Judge Frederick Pepple imposed a four-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. He then suspended the fine on the condition Shortridge provides proof all victims have received full restitution for damages.
The charge stems from an attempted traffic stop at 3:30 a.m. July 11 after Minster Police Sgt. Kirby Cummins observed Shortridge driving without lights in the 300 block of South Main Street.
Shortridge failed to comply and a pursuit ensued spanning eight blocks in a period of 11/2 minutes at an estimated speed of 70 miles per hour. He lost control of his vehicle while traveling through the alley adjacent to Minster Elementary School and the St. Augustine Catholic Church parking lot. The car struck a concrete curb, traveled across a grassy embankment and plowed into a brick-walled garage of Roseann Puthoff, 52 E. Fifth St., Minster.
Shortridge fled the scene leaving three injured passengers behind and was located later. The passengers - Brandon L. Steele, 22, of Sidney; Jill A. Knaser, 24, 419 E. Monroe St., New Bremen; and Michael J. Elliott, 35, of Troy - were taken by Minster Area Life Squad and New Bremen Emergency Medical Services to Joint Township District Memorial Hospital in St. Marys. All were treated then released, according to Minster Police reports. Minster-Jackson Township Fire Department also responded to the scene.
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