By Shelley Grieshop
A 15-year-old Celina boy faces multiple charges after he led five local law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase through Mercer and Auglaize counties Wednesday afternoon.
The chase ended when he crashed the car he was driving into a house in a St. Marys neighborhood.
The teen, a reported runaway, received minor injuries in the accident that left a Chevrolet Corsica clinging to the front of a house at the corner of Clinton and South Perry streets. The homeowner, Evelyn Schrolucke, was not home at the time.
The boy fled the accident scene on foot before officers arrived but was apprehended a short time later on Greenville Road, approximately six blocks away. He suffered minor scrapes and cuts and was taken for treatment at Joint Township District Memorial Hospital, St. Marys. Following his release from the hospital a short time later, the youth was brought back to Celina for an appearance before Mercer County Juvenile Court Judge Mary Pat Zitter. He was ordered held at the West Central Juvenile Detention Center in Troy on a probation violation, pending the filing of additional charges, which police say will likely include at least one felony.
He faces possible charges of felony fleeing and eluding, no operator's license as well as multiple traffic charges in three jurisdictions -- Mercer and Auglaize counties and St. Marys. Celina Police Chief Dave Slusser this morning said some type of auto theft charge also is expected.
A Mercer County Juvenile Court probation officer spotted the youth, who is on probation for other offenses and had been reported missing a week ago by family members, driving through Celina shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday. The probation officer alerted local police and continued to follow the car.
A Celina cruiser caught up with the suspect and the probation officer along U.S. 127 at Oregon Road. The boy immediately accelerated and led the officer, and soon, other law enforcement officials, on a chase along Oregon Road, north to Celina-Mendon and to U.S. 33, then onto state Route 66 into St. Marys. He reportedly criss-crossed residential streets in an attempt to avoid apprehension.
"We do not know at this point whether the youth recognized the probation officer and took off," Slusser told The Daily Standard this morning. "But he certainly made an obvious attempt to flee after spotting one of our cruisers."
Plans to use Stop Sticks at one Mercer County intersection were thwarted when the youth sped past at 101 miles per hour, arriving about 10 seconds ahead of authorities and before the tire-flattening devices could be deployed. He also drove around similar devices deployed by St. Marys police officers at the city limits.
Officers reported the youth weaved his way in and out of traffic throughout the pursuit. He reportedly passed two semitrailers and a private vehicle against traffic along busy U.S. 33 at Hayes Road in Mercer County. One of the officers described the boy's driving as "erratic and reckless" in radio transmissions.
The dark blue mid-size car was clocked at speeds up to 109 miles along Maier-Barber Road near St. Marys and 80 mph within the city limits.
During the pursuit in St. Marys, Celina police officers and Mercer County Sheriff's deputies lost sight of the car for a short time as they used caution at intersections. The teen was not as careful, however, and lost control of the vehicle while attempting to turn east onto Clinton Street. Black skid marks traced his path across the pavement and through the grass before the car struck a wrought iron post on the porch and then the white frame house.
The car, owned by Marvin Wilson of Celina, had been taken from the Celina High School parking lot without the owner's permission, according to Slusser. The keys had reportedly been left inside. Slusser also confirmed today the teenager had no operator's permit.
Craig Fledderjohann of New Knoxville began working on the damaged home after the disabled car was towed from his aunt's property at 431 Clinton St.
"He drove right up on the porch," Fledderjohann said shaking his head in amazement. "This could have been a real tragedy."
He and a helper stepped gingerly around pieces of crumpled aluminum siding while carrying a sheet of plywood to cover a gaping hole near the front door.
"Fortunately, the kid was not hurt and the car hit in the area of my aunt's bedroom," he said. "All the damage inside appears to be confined to her bedroom closet."
Also assisting in the pursuit and the capture of the teen were troopers with the Wapakoneta post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol and deputies from the Auglaize County Sheriff's office.