FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Allen County prosecutors have filed charges against a driver in a crash that killed a woman who was crossing the Pufferbelly Trail on Carroll Road last year.
Jermaine D. Freeman faces charges of Level 5 felony Reckless Homicide and Level 6 felony Invasion of Privacy related to the Sept. 16, 2021, crash on Carroll Road at the trail crossing that claimed the life of 63-year-old Leisa Elser-Patrick of Fort Wayne.
Freeman was the driver of a Toyota Camry that allegedly drove around a stopped vehicle at the trail crossing and struck Elser-Patrick as she was crossing Carroll Road in the trail. The Camry “illegally crossed over a double yellow lane, in the middle of a marked crosswalk, including flashing yellow lights, in the opposite lane of travel,” according to a probable cause affidavit.
“The pedestrian would have had no reason to expect traffic from her right to cross the double yellow and hit her from that direction,” the affidavit added.
At the time, in a police report, Freeman told investigators that the sun created a “severe glare that made it difficult to see.” He said he saw a car stopped in front of him and believed that the car was broken down, so he crossed the double yellow line to pass it.
In the affidavit released Tuesday, though, the driver of the vehicle that was stopped at the crossing ahead of Freeman’s Camry told investigators he was able to identify the markings, signage, and crosswalk, and said he waved the pedestrian across. A medic at the scene also said the sun had not gone down far enough to obstruct the driver’s view.
A dash cam from an officer who drove the same route as Freeman 11 minutes after the crash showed “the sun was still sufficiently high in the sky to not cause the glare described,” the affidavit said.
The investigator wrote in the affidavit: “Your affiant has considered Mr. Freeman’s claim that the glare was so blinding that he was unable to see the signage, flashing lights, lane markings or crosswalk markings. If his claim is true, then his decision to cross a double yellow line, at speed, and entering the on-coming traffic lane under those conditions was even more reckless than if he could see ahead of him, not less.”
A warrant was issued for Freeman’s arrest on Tuesday.
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