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Published: Wednesday, 12/13/2006

Ex-school board member in Bedford due in court Monday


MONROE - Former Bedford school board member Randy Krell is scheduled to appear Monday in District Court for his preliminary exam stemming from his actions during and after a June car crash that killed one teenager and paralyzed another.

Mr. Krell was charged Nov. 21 with negligent homicide and felonious driving. Authorities said he chased a car filled with teenagers across Bedford Township after someone in the car driven by Austin Oberle threw a plastic bottle of water at Mr. Krell's car.

The former school board member pursued the teenagers until their car slid through an intersection and into a ditch, hitting a tree off the west side of Whiteford Center Road, according to the police report.

The crash killed Charlie L. Fackelman, 17, of Toledo, and paralyzed Stevie L. Beale, 17, of Bedford Township.

Mr. Krell, a Bedford Public Schools board member between 1990 and 1994 and between 1999 and 2003, began following the teenagers on Sterns Road on the evening of June 15. He was driving east on Sterns near Secor when the bottle was thrown.

"Mr. Krell's reaction was unnecessary. He overreacted. I see it as a type of road-rage response," said Charles V. Fackelman, the father of the boy who was killed. "The kids, after a certain point, realized that this guy was honestly coming at them. He was aggressive, and it got out of hand.

"Everybody had options that night, and they didn't utilize them."

At the preliminary exam this Monday, Mr. Krell and his attorney, William P. Godfroy of Monroe, will call witnesses for testimony and will present evidence. At that time, the judge could decide to dismiss all charges or bind some of them over to Circuit Court.

Monroe County Prosecutor William Paul Nichols said that, after seeing the evidence presented at the exam Monday, he may decide to file more charges against Mr. Krell, such as leaving the scene of an accident.

If a person is legally involved in an accident, a person must leave his or her name, address, vehicle registration number, driver's license information, and must arrange for medical assistance for any injured persons.

A person is involved in an accident if there is "a logical connection to that accident," Mr. Nichols said.

According to Monroe County 911 dispatch tapes, Mr. Krell called 911 at the scene of the accident and left his name and telephone number. He then called back a few minutes later, after a Whiteford Township volunteer firefighter who lived near the accident arrived on the scene, and asked - at the Whiteford firefighter's bequest - whether emergency assistance was on its way.

But Mr. Krell never said what his involvement in the accident was, and he quickly left the scene before police arrived.

The sheriff's office waited exactly five months before filing charges with the prosecutor's office.

The lead investigator of the case, Deputy Tim George, did not once mention Mr. Krell's name in the conclusion or final opinion of the police report.

"It is my opinion that the careless, negligent driving of Mr. Austin Oberle resulted in the death of Charlie Fackelman and serious injury to Stevie Beale," Deputy George said, closing the report.

The pretrial in District Court was originally scheduled for Nov. 29, but it was postponed and instead took place last Tuesday.

The Beale and Fackelman families showed up in full force for both scheduled pretrials.

When Mr. Krell was leaving the courtroom at the first, postponed pretrial, Mr. Fackelman lunged at him.

"I wasn't prepared. It was the first time I'd seen him in person and was rather surprised that they would put us so close together," he said.

Mr. Oberle, 18, waived his right to a preliminary exam during the pretrial last Tuesday.

His charges have been automatically forwarded to Circuit Court, where he will be arraigned. He was charged Nov. 21 with vehicular manslaughter and felonious driving, both felonies.

"Austin and his family's hearts go out to the people in the accident," said Mr. Oberle's attorney, Robert A. Manion of Temperance. "It was a tragic accident and Austin will obviously have to live with this for the rest of his life. Austin is not trying to absolve himself of anything."

Contact Benjamin Alexander-Bloch at: babloch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.

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