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Published: Monday, 12/18/2006

Crash victim had 3 DUI convictions

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Point Place man killed in an automobile crash Saturday night after he fled police who had stopped him on Summit Street had at least three drunken-driving convictions, and a neighbor said he had been afraid of what might happen if the man were pulled over again.

Ronald J. Raab, 46, of 6103 317th St. was pronounced dead at the scene after the Oldsmobile Achieva he was driving crashed into a utility pole in the 3900 block of North Summit after a one-minute police chase, authorities said.

The vehicle was stopped for having improper license plates - its plates were registered to a Ford Escort, authorities said.

Jeff Matney, who lives next door to the modest

house where Mr. Raab lived with his two cats, said Mr. Raab worked as a mechanic at a Northwood trucking company and held a restricted driver's license because of a 2003 conviction for an incident in which he led police on a chase from Metamora, Ohio, to Perrysburg.

"He told me that if it happened again, he would try to flee," Mr. Matney said yesterday, adding later, "There's no reason for this at all. If he'd have just stopped and did the right thing, he'd still be here."

The Lucas County Coroner's Office is scheduled to conduct an autopsy today.

Toledo police Sgt. Richard Murphy said yesterday that a standard review of the police pursuit would be conducted today. Police said Saturday night that the patrol crew that had stopped Mr. Raab was "400 or 500 yards behind, trying to catch up" when they saw his auto crash into the pole.

The vehicle sustained heavy front-end damage and caught fire. The pole was severed.

Sylvania Municipal Court records show that Mr. Raab was convicted in 2003 for drunken-driving and reckless operation, stemming from separate incidents in 2002. The drunken-driving conviction was listed as a third offense. He also was convicted of a concealed-weapon violation in the case involving the earlier police chase.

Along with fines of $1,100, he was given two jail sentences, one for 60 days and the other for 120 days, of which 50 and 90 days, respectively, were suspended.

Conditions for the suspensions included that he not be convicted of any criminal or alcohol-related offenses in the ensuing five years. His driver's license was suspended for three years, but he later was granted work-driving privileges.

Linda Hill, another neighbor, said Mr. Raab had been scheduled for a hearing concerning the full reinstatement of his license last week, but the hearing was postponed by the court.

"He was just getting his license back, and he got a little scared," surmised Ms. Hill, who blamed the incident on the hearing postponement.

"He was afraid that if he got caught, it would ruin his chance of getting his license back."

Ms. Hill described Mr. Raab as "a very good friend" who looked out for his neighbors' welfare, noting that he once observed and stopped a burglary at another neighbor's house.

Mr. Matney said Mr. Raab was "a quiet guy, a nice guy," who had proposed marriage to his girlfriend the night before his death.



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