Driver in fatal crash due in court
Police name man who died

Monday, May 18, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT WRIGHT -- The driver of a car involved in an early-morning police chase Saturday in which a passenger died may face more charges when he is arraigned today, police said Sunday.

A car driven by Michael C. Bell, 22, of Springfield, Ohio, burst into flames after careening through an intersection and grassy area at the end of Highland Pike in Fort Wright. The car fell 30 feet down an embankment.

Mr. Bell is to be arraigned at 8:30 a.m. today in Kenton District Court before Judge Marty Sheehan, jail officials said Sunday. He will make his appearance via video camera.

The chase started in Covington about 1:40 a.m. when Kentucky State Police Trooper Aaron Beighle, suspecting a drunken driver, tried to stop the car. It went through three Northern Kentucky cities.

On Sunday, police identified the passenger who died as Jeremiah J. Fraley, 20, also of Springfield. Mr. Fraley was wedged under the back of the front seat of the burning car, Kentucky State Police Trooper Jan Wuchner said.

Trooper Beighle, Mr. Bell and Christopher N. Burpee, 19, also of Springfield, who was the second passenger, were all treated at a hospital and released. The Springfield men were on their way to a vacation in Florida.

The 1982 Chevy sedan that burned was registered to Mr. Bell. Mr. Bell has been charged with driving under the influence, reckless driving and attempting to elude an officer.

Bond for Mr. Bell, who remained in custody Sunday night in the Kenton County Jail, was set at $25,000.

Trooper Beighle's cruiser was destroyed after flying over the embankment.

"The trooper is doing fine. He's still coming down off of a very emotional and physical episode," said Trooper Wuchner.

"By all appearances of the condition of the police car, it would not have surprised us if Trooper Beighle was seriously hurt or did not survive. It's miraculous. We are thankful that we did not lose a fine young trooper."

Trooper Wuchner said Trooper Beighle followed state police procedure and did nothing wrong.

Saturday's police chase was one of three last week, and the second resulting in a death.

Last Monday, Robert Williams Jr., 17, of Evanston was clocked by an Arlington Heights officer at 78 mph in a stolen Jeep in a 55 mph zone on Interstate 75. The officer chased Mr. Williams, and about three miles down the highway, Mr. Williams lost control of the Jeep, hit a guardrail, flipped and struck a utility pole. He later died. On Tuesday, a Newport officer reported a man had run a stop sign. The ensuing chase went through Cincinnati and into Clermont County, where he was spotted by Union Township officers. They later found his wrecked truck along the roadside. He was captured on foot.

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