FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A 51-year-old man who crashed an off-road vehicle on a frozen pond during a party Feb. 5 has been charged with causing the death of his wife, who was a passenger.
Thomas P. Tippmann, Jr., of the 8500 block of Flutter Road, was charged Tuesday with causing death when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. He was also charged with a misdemeanor for operating an off road vehicle/snowmobile while under the influence of alcohol.
Tippmann was released from the Allen County Jail on a $10,000 bond and will appear in court Thursday.
The Allen County Sheriff’s Department was called to a private snowmobiling party at 12:30 a.m. that Saturday morning. The investigation determined that Tippmann was driving a side-by-side ORV with three passengers on a frozen pond near the 8600 block of Flutter Road.
Tippman went to perform a left-turn donut on the ice but investigators believe the ORV’s right-side wheels broke through the top layer of ice and the ORV dropped into a layer of slush, and the ORV flipped onto its right side, according to a probable cause affidavit. As the wheels caught, Tippmann’s wife, 50-year-old Suzanne Tippmann was tossed off and knocked unconscious when she hit the ground, then pinned under the vehicle, the affidavit said.
Suzanne Tippmann was taken to a hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
The Allen County Coroner’s Office ruled that Suzanne Tippman died of multiple blunt force injuries from the crash and her death was ruled accidental.
According to the affidavit, Thomas Tippmann’s blood alcohol content was .156, nearly twice the legal limit. The blood test was administered three hours after the accident.
Police noted in the affidavit that Tippmann’s eyes were bloodshot but he did not have an odor of alcohol on his breath. He was cooperative with investigators, the affidavit said.
DNR noted in its report after the accident that no one on the ORV was wearing a helmet, safety harness/seatbelt or protective riding gear. The affidavit said Thomas Tippmann and another front-seat passenger were wearing harnesses.
Indiana law requires only children under 18 to wear a helmet.