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Published: 1/16/2013

Police say firefighter involved in single-vehicle drunken-driving crash

BY TAYLOR DUNGJEN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
An entrance to Boyd's Retro Candy Store shows damage from car accident debris. An entrance to Boyd's Retro Candy Store shows damage from car accident debris.
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For the second time in less than a month, a Toledo firefighter who works out of downtown’s Station 5 was involved in what police say was a drunken-driving crash.

Firefighter Todd Steele, 43, of Temperance, a 17-year veteran of the city’s department, will likely face criminal charges after the single-vehicle crash in West Toledo late Monday night.

Mr. Steele was being treated for injuries suffered from the crash at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center where a spokesman said he was in fair condition Tuesday.

Police said Mr. Steele will likely be charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and reckless operation of a vehicle once he is released from the hospital.

In a police incident report, Sgt. Thomas Morelli reported that Mr. Steele was driving eastbound on Sylvania Avenue when he lost control at Phillips Avenue and hit a flag pole, a stone monument, a fire hydrant, and a traffic-control box. The monument and hydrant flew through the air and smashed into a large stone support pillar at Boyd's Retro Candy Store, 954 Phillips Ave., at 11:44 p.m.

Toledo police accident reconstructionists were working to determine how fast Mr. Steele was going, but officials say it was “in excess” of the speed limit. It was not immediately known where Mr. Steele was headed at the time.

The curb lane of westbound Phillips remained closed Tuesday because the damage has left part of Boyd's, near the road, structurally unsound.

The pillar was replaced with wooden beams, but still was not safe, officials said.

Pam Lloyd-Camp, an owner of the candy store, said she was thankful the store did not have to close Tuesday. Mrs. Lloyd-Camp said she hopes the stone archway will be able to be restored and “put back together so it looks how it always has.”

Weeks ago, Paul Heiss, 31, a 10-year veteran of the fire department, was charged with being involved in a hit-skip traffic crash on West Sylvania near Douglas Road.

Mr. Heiss, who is charged with numerous traffic offenses including driving while intoxicated and failure to stop after an accident, rear-ended one vehicle and then backed into another before fleeing the scene.

Toledo fire Chief Luis Santiago said if police and internal investigations finds the firefighters guilty, “folks will be held accountable,” he said.

“We like to hold ourselves to higher standards,” the chief said.

Mr. Heiss, who has no prior criminal history, has not been back to work since the Dec. 30 crash. Chief Santiago said the firefighter has been using vacation time while investigations are ongoing. It was unclear how long investigations will take.

Although both firefighters worked out of the same station on the same shift, it will not create staffing issues at the downtown station, one of the busiest in the city. Chief Santigo said firefighters are frequently used to fill in for others when someone is on vacation, injured, or sick.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at: tdungjen@theblade.com or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.



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