Further information concerning the police pursuit on Wednesday afternoon which reached speeds of nearly 80 mph at one point before the car being chased crashed into a local house was released this morning by the Decatur Police Department.
Police Chief Ken Ketzler said the chase started at 12:35 p.m. when Julian D. Hart, 26, Bluffton, tried to pass a check at the Innovative Concepts store at 1421 Manchester Street, Decatur. But he fled the store when employees became suspicious of the check and notified police.
Adams County Sheriff Department Chief Deputy Eric Meyer was the closest officer to the scene and starting following the Hart vehicle, which police said is owned by Caitlynn L. Cerna, Bluffton. Police said Cerna and Hart have the same Bluffton address.
Police said Hart initially went south on 13th Street and turned left onto Meibers Street. With Meyer behind him, Hart turned onto 11th Street and as he approached the intersection with Washington Street, police said Hart allegedly ran the stop sign and struck a westbound van owned by the Adams County Council on Aging. It was being driven by Richard W. Fisher, 61, rural Decatur.
Fisher complained of chest pain following the mishap and was transferred by paramedics to the Adams Memorial Hospital. Information about Fisher's condition was not immediately available this morning from hospital officials.
Damage to the Council on Aging van was estimated at between $5,001-$10,000.
After the initial impact, Hart's vehicle spun around and left the scene on Washington Street. He then turned south onto Second Street and police estimated the chase reached a speed of nearly 80 mph in the 30 mph zone. A witness told police he heard a loud popping noise, which police believe was perhaps a tire on the Hart vehicle being blown out as Hart lost control of his vehicle.
The vehicle entered a yard owned by Lee and Rosie Shoaf, N. Second Street, Decatur, and then crashed into a house at 418 N. Second Street, Decatur, owned by Bill Zwick, rural Decatur. Damage to the house was set at between $10,001-$25,000.
Hart sustained several fractures in the crash, according to the police report, and was trapped in the vehicle. Rescue workers from both the Decatur Fire Department and the Monroe Rescue Squad were at the scene for a period of time to remove Hart from his vehicle, then paramedics took him to Adams Memorial Hospital. He was later flown to Fort Wayne for further treatment.
Citing HIPAA privacy standards, officials at both Parkview and Lutheran Hospital said this morning that Hart was not listed in their patient directory so a patient condition on Hart was not available.
Ketzler said it has been discovered there are active warrants for Hart's arrest in Allen County and it is likely he will be detained there first to face charges before any court time in Adams County is seen. Those charges were not listed on the Decatur police report and a call to the Fort Wayne Police Department public information office today was not returned before the Democrat's press deadline.