Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Fleeing suspect linked to death


Innocent man killed in crash

By Jennifer Edwards
Enquirer staff writer

DELHI TOWNSHIP - A bystander died early Monday after a suspect fleeing police ran a red light and struck his car, killing the 21-year-old man and injuring two other people.

The suspect, identified by police as Eugene Lee, 43, whose last known address was 2905 Old Ohio 32 in Clermont County, remained on the lam Monday night.

He was charged with aggravated vehicular assault, aggravated vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident. He also was driving on a suspended license, police said.

"It's a tragic accident," said Delhi police Lt. Ric Ideker Monday. "The fault goes to Mr. Lee and his lack of concern for others and his lack of concern for the law. He didn't even care about the victims."

Mark Miller of Delhi Township was pronounced dead at the scene of the 12:55 a.m. crash at the hilly intersection of Delhi and Pedretti roads, police said. Two of Miller's friends in the blue 1998 Acura with him, driver Joseph Joyce, 25, and front-seat passenger Erin O'Brien, 21, were taken to University Hospital.

Joyce, of Delhi, was treated and released; O'Brien, of Dillsboro, Ind., was in fair condition Monday night, a hospital spokesperson said.

They wore seat belts; Miller, who was thrown from the car's back seat through the rear window, did not, Delhi police said.

Police said the crash unfolded in 45 seconds over two-tenths of a mile when Lee hopped into his white, 1987 Chevy S-10 pickup truck and drove off to evade Delhi Police Officer Jena Poppe.

She was about to question him after seeing him tampering with coin machines at the Don Lane Car Wash on Don Lane near Delhi Road. The officer followed him east up Delhi, momentarily losing sight of him.

She spotted him again seconds later but did not turn on her cruiser's blue lights or siren, Ideker said, adding that she did not violate police chase procedures.

Her encounter with Lee happened so fast, she had no time to initiate a chase or even alert a dispatcher, he said. "She was not in pursuit at all," he said. "She was just trying to figure out who this guy was and what he was doing. The officer has a duty and an obligation to prevent crime."

Police said Lee's truck ran a red light seconds later at the intersection of Delhi and Pedretti roads, slamming into the Acura as it traveled south on Pedretti Road.

Lee's truck proceeded a short distance and came to a halt in the front yard of a home in the 4400 block of Delhi Road. The suspect bailed out of the car and ran.

Miller's family struggled Monday to piece together what happened. His father, Marvin Miller, blamed the fleeing suspect for his son's death.

"He is the one who chose to run through a red light and hit the car my son was in," the father said. "I don't fault the police. They have to do what they have to do.

"I hope they find him just so he can be punished for what he did. He took my son's life, so I can think of a lot of extreme things that could happen to him."

Mark Miller was a 2001 Elder High School graduate and attended Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. Two weeks ago, he started a job at Advance Auto Parts on Glenway Avenue, his father said.

He said his son was single, lived at home, excelled in art classes at Elder, strove to be a mechanic and loved tinkering with cars.

"It was a passion he picked up over the last two years," said Marvin Miller, 57. "He was really focused on it. He was going to school for it. He had his life going in the right direction, and now he's gone."

E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com.




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