Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Crash survivor appears in court

$1.1M cash bond stays in place for alleged driver in wreck that killed four

By Janice Morse
Enquirer staff writer

The man accused of killing four people in a single-vehicle crash while fleeing police appeared in court Monday to face 11 charges.

Jerald J. Hundley, 24, of Chillicothe, walked into Hamilton County Municipal Court with visible injuries - a bruised, black eye and a slight limp - as Judge David Stockdale left Hundley's bond unchanged at $1.1 million, cash only.

"He's got to come up with one million, one hundred thousand dollars to get out - and I don't think that's going to happen," said Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen.

"What happened here was incredible," Allen said. "It was one of the worst accidents I've ever seen. We want to make sure we charge him with as much as we possibly and legally can."

A grand jury is set to consider the case against Hundley on Aug. 2.

Hundley's court-appointed lawyer, Pete Rosenwald, said he has instructed his client not to speak to reporters. He said he had not talked to his client in detail about the crash, so Rosenwald did not know how Hundley was able to survive the wreck - which split the car in half - or what happened during the four hours that elapsed before Hundley showed up at a nearby doorstep asking for help.

Hundley, who was transferred from Bethesda North Hospital to the Hamilton County Justice Center on Sunday, is accused of driving a 1990 Ford Probe at more than 100 mph into a utility pole around 2 a.m. Friday, then leaving the scene of the Sycamore Township crash.

His license was under suspension at the time of the crash, one of 15 times courts had suspended it.

Court records say Hundley admitted to medics that he was driving the car - and that he sustained injuries consistent with wearing a safety belt while in the driver's seat. Hamilton County sheriff's spokesman Steve Barnett said investigators have other evidence showing Hundley was the driver, but he declined to disclose it.

Accident reconstruction specialists believe that Nickole Williamson, 23, of Sycamore Township, was a front-seat passenger, Barnett said, and that she was also wearing a seat belt.

However, Barnett said, investigators believe that the seat belts that Hundley and Williamson were wearing both failed and everyone was thrown from the wreckage.

The belts failed, Barnett said, because the impact of the crash ripped the vehicle apart and broke the safety-belt attachments.

Williamson was pronounced dead at Bethesda North while the other three passengers were pronounced dead at the scene.

All three back seat passengers were believed to be unbelted.

They were: Williamson's sister, Stacey, 15, and Hundley's friends, Nicholas D. Lucke, 24, of Greater Cincinnati, and Timothy J. Chaney, 22, of Chillicothe.


E-mail jmorse@enquirer.com

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