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Belmont County

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Full report on Bellaire cruiser crash could take weeks

Updated: Wednesday, May 7 2014, 12:32 PM EDT

WTOV9.com
BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio – The investigation into a Tuesday night crash involving two Bellaire Police cruisers is in the hands of the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Lt. James Faunda of the St. Clairsville Post of the OSHP said there's still a lot of information and facts to collect about the accident, which involved two cruisers, two police officers, and two prisoners.
He said the initial investigation report could take about a week to a week and a half, but the full report compiled by members of the OHSP and their specialized reconstructionist could take up to 3 weeks to complete.
That entire packet of information will then be submitted to the Prosecutor's Office for review.
There were no serious injuries in the crash, which took place along the on-ramp to Ohio 7 from 48th Street a little after 10 p.m.
The damage to the police cruisers, however, was significant, as both were totaled.

Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk said officers responded to a fight along Franklin Street prior to the accident. Two people, Autumn Preston and Christopher Bennett, were arrested as a result of that incident. Reports indicate both may have been under the influence of a controlled substance and were said to be noncompliant with hospital staff while waiting to be cleared, and then taken to jail. On the way to the Belmont County Jail, the accident happened after the prisoners, each in a separate car, were allegedly acting up and being combative. Preston had to be tazed by Officer Mike Wheeler and Bennett was allegedly spitting at Lt. JJ Watson. After Bennett allegedly made death threats toward Watson, he stopped the car and that's when Wheeler ran into them along the on-ramp to Ohio 7 from 48th street. Watson was ejected, and his leg was partly pinned.
Bennett was transported to the Belmont County Jail on Tuesday night, booked under a failure to appear warrant with a bond of $20,000.
Meanwhile, Preston was released from the Ohio Valley Medical Center. Because inter-state regulations, she will be taken to jail in West Virginia before being extradited back to Belmont County.
“It's tragic,” Kovalyk said late Tuesday night. “We've got two cruisers that were totaled, but the main thing is that we don't believe anyone was seriously injured and the Bellaire police department will get through this.”



Full report on Bellaire cruiser crash could take weeks


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