Thursday, Sep 29, 2016
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Driver held in Wood County fatal crash

Driver-held-in-Wood-County-fatal-crash

Mendoza

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BOWLING GREEN Investigators say a man from Henry County's McClure was speeding and under the influence of alcohol and drugs when the car he was driving hit the rear of a minivan on Sand Ridge Road on Sunday evening, killing a Weston couple.

Cory E. Mendoza, 19, was arraigned yesterday in Bowling Green Municipal Court on a charge of aggravated vehicular homicide from the crash, which resulted in the deaths of William and Sharon DeWitt, both 69, and injured seven others.

Lt. Dean Laubacher of the Ohio Highway Patrol's Bowling Green post said the case is to be presented to a Wood County grand jury Wednesday and he expects additional charges.

'We know that they were speeding. We know that there was alcohol involved, that there were drugs involved,' Lieutenant Laubacher said. 'There is child endangerment involved, and contributing to delinquency of minors is involved.'

Troopers still seek Mr. Mendoza's father, Juan Mendoza, 38, who they believe fled from the scene of the fiery crash. Cory Mendoza's 16-month-old son, Domanic, also was injured in the crash.

Juan Mendoza is wanted on a felony warrant from Henry County and a warrant for a probation violation from Bowling Green Municipal Court.

Lieutenant Laubacher said charges relating to the crash also are likely to be filed against Juan Mendoza.

According to the highway patrol, Cory Mendoza was driving west on Sand Ridge Road near Potter Road north of Bowling Green about 6 p.m. Sunday when he struck a westbound minivan driven by Shelen Stevens, 43, of Weston. The van struck a tree. Mr. Mendoza's car overturned and caught fire.

Ms. Stevens, who is the daughter of the DeWitts, was listed in serious condition

yesterday in Toledo Hospital.

Lieutenant Laubacher said Cory Mendoza and others inside the car fled the scene, but all were found except for Juan Mendoza. Cory Mendoza was released from St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center on Wednesday.

Troopers assisted by Lucas County sheriffs' deputies arrested him about 6:30 p.m. Thursday at his girlfriend's apartment in South Toledo. Lieutenant Laubacher said that after Mr. Mendoza was in a cruiser, he kicked out a window.

Before setting bond yesterday, Municipal Court Judge Mark Reddin asked Mr. Mendoza about his attempt to flee from the accident scene and then cause problems when he was taken into custody.

'I was on my way back here to Bowling Green. I was waiting to see my son to say my goodbyes to family,' Mr. Mendoza told the judge. 'I'm in trouble here. I know what I did was wrong.'

The judge interrupted him, suggesting he remain silent until he has an attorney to represent him.

He was held in the Wood County jail last night on an $85,000 bond, of which $10,000 was for an unauthorized use of property charge filed yesterday from Bowling Green.

A memorial service for the DeWitts is at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Dayspring Assembly of God Church, Bowling Green. Mr. DeWitt, a longtime city employee, retired in 2005 from the payroll department. His wife, a licensed practical nurse, retired in 2004 from Wood County Hospital.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-353-5972.

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