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Published: Tuesday, 1/26/2010

Sylvania traffic death inquiry could take weeks

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It could be weeks before Sylvania police complete their investigation of the accident Thursday in which a motorist struck and killed a Northview High School freshman as she crossed the street to her school bus, the officer leading the inquiry said yesterday.

While police are confident that warning lights on the bus were flashing and its stop sign was properly deployed, they still have witnesses to interview and other evidence to assess before the investigation is complete, Officer Alan Beadle said.

The Ohio Highway Patrol is assisting and its work is incomplete too, he said.

"It could be another week, it could be two weeks, I just don't know," he said. "It just takes some time, and then we'll present what we have to the prosecutor."

A preliminary report that the police released on Saturday, he said, was a state-required form containing basic elements of the 7:02 a.m. accident in which Morgan Duris, 15, suffered fatal injuries in front of her home at 7960 Erie St.

A westbound Buick Rendezvous operated by Cynthia A. Anderson, 66, of Toledo, struck the girl while the eastbound school bus waited in the opposite lane with its warning devices operating.

While that initial report would appear to support citing Ms. Anderson for failure to stop for a stopped school bus, writing such a ticket would preclude the filing of more serious charges should authorities decide they are warranted, Officer Beadle said.

"Ohio rules of evidence do not allow the filing of additional charges later on - that would be double jeopardy," he said. "Once you're giving a misdemeanor citation, you cannot go back."

While a news release issued Thursday said police did not suspect intoxication or cell-phone use as factors, the preliminary police report contained no details beyond the basic facts of the accident. Officer Beadle said evidence gathered at the scene and witness testimony received since then will be incorporated into the forthcoming investigation report.

"We have plenty of supplemental information" that wasn't released on Saturday, he said. "We have a lot of witnesses, a lot of evidence" to sift through.

Where any court case ends up being heard, Officer Beadle said, will depend on the outcome of consultation with Sylvania city prosecutor Robert Pyzik once the investigation is complete.



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