Monday, July 14, 2014

UPDATED: Wildlife Division officers back on duty; driver of fatal high-speed crash charged with two felonies

Even as the Ohio State Highway Patrol continues to investigate the July 6 Clermont County fatal accident involving three Ohio Division of Wildlife officers, the vehicle's driver has been charged with two felony counts of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide.

Charged with the two counts was Paul M. Chisenhall, 36, of Goshen, Ohio, and following his release from Cincinnati's University Hospital on July 9.

It is alleged that Chisenhall attempted to elude Wildlife Division officers after they had attempted to stop a 2005 Saturn L300 sedan near 1,058-acre Stonelick State Park in southwest Ohio's Clermont County.

The three Wildlife Division officers are Jason Keller, who once served as the state wildlife officer assigned to Lake County but now holds the same position in Warren County; Eric Lamb, state wildlife officer assigned to Brown County; and Brian Glodick, a Wildlife Division supervisor.

All three men were placed on paid administrative duty, but returned to full duty - including law enforcement - July 14, said Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Division chief Scott Zody.

The Highway Patrol says the incident began about 7:20 p.m., July 6 – a Sunday. Its official statement says the preliminary and initial investigation reveals that the Saturn “... fled southbound on State Route 727.

“The vehicle crested a hill and the driver lost control. The vehicle traveled off the left side of the road where it struck an embankment and some trees. The vehicle continued across and off the right side of the roadway.”

Besides the driver, Chisenhall, the Saturn's other occupants were Christina M. Singleton, 31, of Newport, KY; Jason C. Wright, 31, of Martinsville, Ohio; and Charles W. McMullen, 34, of Williamsburg, Ohio.

Other known details were that Wright was a rear seat occupant and who was not waring a seat belt while McMullen also was the second rear seat passenger but who was wearing a seat belt restraint at the time of the accident.

Following the accident the three Wildlife Division officers began administering first aid.
However, both men were pronounced dead at the scene with Wright also having been ejected from the vehicle.

For her part, Singleton was the front seat occupant next to Chisenhall and who also was wearing the seat belt/shoulder restraint harness, the Highway Patrol's preliminary investigation report says.
Singleton sustained serious injuries and were life-flighted to University Hospital.

Meanwhile, Chisenhall was transported from the scene by the local township EMS and then life-flighted to University Hospital as well.

As mentioned, following his discharge from University Hospital Chisenhall was taken to the Clermont County Jail where he was then charged with the two F1 felony counts, done so because Chisenhall was driving while under suspension of his driving privileges, said Lt. Wayne Price, commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Clermont County Post.

Based on the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission's latest “Quick Reference Guide,” a F1 felony carries a prison term of up to 11 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both, and for each count.

Also, one local news account says Chisenhall was found guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol/drugs in 2002 and again in 2005.

As for the Natural Resources' update, an exhaustive internal review of the incident occurred. That review included that Keller “observed a group of individuals consuming what appeared to be alcoholic beverages and acting disorderly,” said Bethany McCorkle, the agency's chief of communications.

Keller then requested assistance as he also observed what he concluded was littering and entering the Saturn “with what appeared to be open containers of alcohol,” the Natural Resources Department said.

Uniformed then made an attempt to stop the Saturn which sped “...away at a high rate of speed.”

When the officers followed the vehicle and crested a hill the state wildlife personnel saw that the Saturn had already crashed, the Natural Resources Department also says.

These officers then administered first aid until the township EMS arrived.

Following departmental policy to ensure that protocols and policies were followed correctly, the three Wildlife Division were placed on paid administrative.

“The three officers that were involved in the incident in Clermont County have been returned to full duty as of this morning (Monday, July 14),” McCorkle said.

Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

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