A Fort Wayne man who police said was driving a stolen car at more than 100 mph before a fatal crash earlier this year has pleaded guilty.
Donald E. Stump pleaded guilty Monday in Allen Superior Court to one count of felony Reckless Homicide, six counts of felony Criminal Recklessness, one count of felony Operating a Vehicle with a Controlled Substance Causing Death, one count of felony Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated Causing Death and one felony count of Receiving Stolen Auto Parts. A plea agreement calls for Stump to be sentenced to no more than 8 years.
The crash happened around 7:15 p.m. Jan. 2 at East Washington Boulevard and Harmar Street, just east of downtown Fort Wayne. According to a probable cause affidavit, Stump was driving a Pontiac G6 that was reported stolen from New Haven. Stump was reportedly driving with no headlights and speeding when he slammed into the back of a 1999 red Chevrolet pickup truck driven by 69-year-old Cornelius Key.
An off-duty officer was driving westbound on East Washington Boulevard when he heard a loud collision behind him, the affidavit said. He did not witness the crash, according to reports, but debris hit his truck and he saw a car spin by him and stop in the middle of the intersection at Harmar Street.
At that point, the traffic light went out, according to the officer. He said he saw a “younger white male with very short hair” in the driver’s seat of the Pontiac, the affidavit said. Police have since identified the driver as Stump. The officer said he was conscious but would not talk.
A witness told the officer that the driver of the red pickup was in bad shape.
There were five witnesses who told police they saw the Pontiac being driven at a high rate of speed. Witnesses estimated that the driver of the Pontiac was going about 100 miles per hour, without headlights, and was swerving in and out of traffic, according to the affidavit.
The erratic driving forced one driver from the middle lane, to the left lane, then eventually onto the sidewalk, one witness recalled. That same witness reported that the car hit the red truck so hard, it was lifted off the ground, before crashing it into a light pole and an electrical box, the affidavit said.
The New Haven Police Department took a report of a stolen blue 2005 Pontiac G6 that had been parked at a business in New Haven. The owner of the car said it was taken while he was inside and he did not know Stump, nor did he give him permission to drive his car.
On Jan. 5, police obtained search warrants for both cars involved in the crash. They removed the airbag module and a download of the crash data. The results showed that the Pontiac was driving 112 miles per hour about five seconds before the crash. At the time of the crash, the Pontiac’s speed was 106 miles per hour. The speed odometer was stuck at 106 miles per hour, the affidavit said.
At the time of the crash, police said alcohol was believed to be a factor. However, there are no charges connected with driving under the influence.
Stump was reported to be hospitalized in serious condition immediately following the crash. He recovered and was then arrested and charged.
Stump will be sentenced September 21. A judge must still accept his plea deal.