WAYNE, Ohio - With alcohol on his breath, blood on his clothes, and a set of golf clubs slung over his shoulder, Karl Eickmann said little when a Wood County sheriff's deputy picked him up as he walked along a rural road just after 1 a.m. yesterday.
Three and a half hours before his arrest, police say, Eickmann struck and killed a Bellevue, Ohio, truck driver at U.S. 24 and I-475 in Maumee, then fled the scene in his extensively damaged car.
Jared Akins, 27, was dragged 100 feet by Eickmann's 1991 Chevrolet Corsica. He was pronounced dead at 10 p.m. Wednesday in St. Luke's Hospital. He had been on his way home to Bellevue when his truck ran out of fuel. Casie Feld, his longtime girlfriend and the mother of his two children, said she was waiting up for him.
“We knew something had happened when he didn't come home. He's not like that,” Ms. Feld said between tears.
“Then the police showed up at my door. Right away I knew what happened to him. I just can't believe it. My whole life is shattered.”
She said Mr. Akins began working two weeks ago for JMC Logistics, a Bellevue trucking company, so he could spend more time with his family. Before that, he was a truck driver, hauling new cars long distances, a job that meant long periods away from the family.
Eickmann was arraigned yesterday in Maumee Municipal Court on one count each of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident. The charges are misdemeanors but will be upgraded to felonies if the results of toxicology tests show Eickmann was drunk or under the influence of drugs, Maumee Detective Sgt. Gayle Lohrbach said.
Dr. Diane Barnett, a Lucas County deputy coroner, said an autopsy showed that Mr. Akins died from head and neck injuries.
Eickmann, a 38-year-old welder and resident of Wayne, is held in the Lucas County jail in lieu of $35,000 bond. He was a wanted man even before the fatal hit-skip accident, having failed to appear to serve an 80-day jail sentence for 1997 convictions for drunken driving and a drug offense. The Sylvania Municipal Court had issued a bench warrant for him.
According to Maumee court records, Eickmann has a string of convictions for speeding, driving under suspension, driving under the influence, and felony narcotics trafficking.
Mr. Akins was struck as he stood next to a service truck he had called for assistance. His truck and the service truck were parked between the ramps from southbound I-475 and eastbound U.S. 24.
Maumee police issued an all-points bulletin after the accident. According to a court affidavit, Eickman fled to Perrysburg, where he pulled into the Dixie Motel, 25435 North Dixie Hwy., and told someone he knew: “I hit someone on the highway. I know I am in trouble, and I got to get out of town.”
At 12:30 a.m. yesterday, the Wood County sheriff's office received a report of a car matching the description of Eickmann's parked on U.S. 6, just east of Pemberville Road. A deputy found blood splattered on the vehicle and the windshield smashed out on the driver's side.
More deputies arrived and began searching nearby roads. Within 15 minutes, Eickmann was seen walking on State Rt. 281, just east of Pemberville Road. He said he was walking to his home in Wayne. He was carrying his golf clubs, which he had removed from the car.
The deputy arrested him on the Sylvania warrant. He wrote in his report that he smelled alcohol on Eickmann, who did not appear intoxicated.
Ms. Feld said she and her children, Christopher, 6, and Cassidie, 18 months, are struggling to cope with their loss. “What am I going to do now? He was my whole life. We always thought that one day we were going to get married. We joked about it, you know. We thought we had time. But you just don't know. Time just ran out.''