The community of Mentor, Ohio, suffered a loss of one of its finest recently with the death of a police officer in a hit-and-run accident. A suspect has been charged in the officer's death.
The officer, 41, had stopped to assist a colleague on June 24 around 1 a.m. at a traffic stop on Ohio Route 2 near Ohio Route 306. As he was walking toward the stopped car, he was hit by a late-model Jeep Wrangler, according to investigators. Emergency personnel treated him on site and transported him to TriPoint Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
He was the first Mentor officer killed in the line of duty in more than 90 years, according to the police chief. He had been an officer for 14 years.
Police immediately began to look for a dark-colored Jeep with damage to the right side and had a partial license plate number to work with. Investigators traced the vehicle to the suspect's parents, who live in Kirtland, and visited them. The parents reported their son had used the Jeep but had not returned home. Meanwhile, a damaged Jeep was reported to be parked at Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve and Marina, authorities said.
The suspect, 24, was on a boat with some friends and was arrested about 9 a.m. at the marina. Police said the suspect told him he did not know he had struck anything with the Jeep.
The man pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance and was being held on $1 million bond. So far, he has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident and tampering with evidence, but additional charges could be filed. Authorities are awaiting the results of toxicology tests.
Criminal charges will play out in the court system, but the officers survivors might want to consider a wrongful death lawsuit. He left behind a son who could need future support for his education and other needs. An Ohio attorney well-versed in personal injury law could help his son and extended family explore their options.