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Published: Thursday, 2/7/2013

Autopsy: Ottawa Hills man was drinking on night of fatal crash

BLADE STAFF
Peter Graham, 16, a junior at Ottawa Hills High School, touches the tree where Brian Hoeflinger was killed on Edgehill Road as he and Robert Grimm, 17, a junior at St. Francis de Sales High School, look over the site of the accident in Ottawa Hills. Peter Graham, 16, a junior at Ottawa Hills High School, touches the tree where Brian Hoeflinger was killed on Edgehill Road as he and Robert Grimm, 17, a junior at St. Francis de Sales High School, look over the site of the accident in Ottawa Hills.
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An 18-year-old Ottawa Hills High School senior who was killed in a fiery crash late Friday night in the village was drinking before the crash, according to autopsy results.

Dr. James Patrick, Lucas County coroner, said Monday evening that Brian Hoeflinger’s blood-alcohol level was 0.15 percent, 7 1/2 times the legal limit of 0.02 percent for someone under 21 to drive in Ohio, and nearly double the legal limit for older drivers.

Mr. Hoeflinger was southbound on Edgehill Road about 11:50 p.m. when his vehicle went off the street’s west side, struck a tree near a bridge over the Ottawa River, and caught fire, the Ohio Highway Patrol said.

Mr. Hoeflinger had apparently left a schoolmate’s birthday party at a residence on Brantford Road, and was last seen by friends between 10 and 10:30 p.m., highway patrol Sgt. Rick Vitte said.

Someone who later showed up at the crash scene told police that he had knowledge that Mr. Hoeflinger was drinking before the crash, and the patrol is investigating that possibility, Sergeant Vitte said before the coroner’s findings were publicized.

Dr. Patrick said the teenager had two major injuries that caused his death: a broken neck and laceration of the heart. The post-crash fire didn’t contribute to his death, the coroner said, as tests performed during the autopsy didn’t show an elevated carbon-monoxide level that would occur from smoke inhalation.

The coroner’s office will conduct additional toxicology tests, Dr. Patrick said.

Ottawa Hills Local Schools Superintendent Kevin Miller said the district had 19 counselors from area schools, counseling services, and congregations at the Ottawa Hills Junior-Senior High School Monday for students and staff.

Some students and staff wore Carolina blue Monday, because Mr. Hoeflinger wanted to attend the University of North Carolina.

School district staff haven’t focused on the circumstances surrounding the crash when talking with students, Mr. Miller said, and instead have focused on Mr. Hoeflinger’s memory and helping students deal with their emotions. Mr. Miller called Mr. Hoeflinger an intelligent, hard-working young man, who easily made friends and had “a great perspective on life.”



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