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Investigation continues into death of pedestrian

HOUSER AustinLee obit


It could be months before vehicle, driver can be linked to crash

An investigation into the Oct. 25 late afternoon death of Austin Houser continues, but it could be months until local authorities have enough information to proceed with charges.

“The first part of the puzzle is to make sure we have the right vehicle,” Logan County Sheriff Andrew Smith said. “Then we move on to determine who was driving it at the time of the crash.”

Austin, 15, was found dead Oct. 27 in a ditch along State Route 274 just north of Rushsylvania where he lived.

Investigators believe he was well off the roadway when he was struck by a vehicle. The driver left the scene and did not report the crash.

Two days later, his body was spotted by nearby residents.

Logan County Coroner Dr. Michael Failor said the preliminary autopsy results indicate Austin most likely died upon impact with the vehicle.

Deputies located a suspect vehicle on Oct. 27 and obtained a search warrant to seize it as evidence.

Between the fatal crash and the discovery of Austin’s body, the weather changed from balmy to a wintry mix of snow and rain. This complicated the collection of evidence from the vehicle which was parked outside prior to its seizure.

Detective Phil Bailey said evidence has been sent to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Ohio State Highway Patrol crime lab.

He said it could be months before the results come in.

Sheriff Smith said it was a similar time line for the investigation into the Dec. 23 death of Amish school teacher Martha Miller. She was riding a bicycle on County Road 101 near County Road 49 when she was struck by a pickup truck operated by Chad Pulfer, 38, of Lakeview.

Mr. Pulfer was sentenced Sept. 4 to three months in jail for a first-degree misdemeanor charge of vehicular homicide.

As for the most recent pedestrian fatality, Sheriff Smith said once the evidence is in, the case will be forwarded to Logan County Prosecutor William T. Goslee’s office for consideration of charges.

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