Ohio: Charges pending against driver who struck Stow police officer

The Ohio State Highway Patrol will be filing misdemeanor charges and citations, including operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, in connection with a crash that injured a Stow police officer on Route 8 Monday night, OSHP Lt. Antonio Matos said Thursday.

OSHP investigated the crash.

Stow Police Capt. Bryan Snavely said Sgt. Ted Bell, who was providing security for construction workers on the highway, was released from Akron General Hospital Wednesday night.

“He’s recovering at home,” said Snavely.

Snavely said that Bell, 47 and a 20-year veteran of the department, missed a couple of shifts because of the crash, but was already scheduled to be off Thursday and Friday. Snavely said it was unclear whether Bell would miss any additional time.

Matos said that besides OVI, a first-degree misdemeanor, 57-year-old Stephen E. Eibel will be charged with blood alcohol content test refusal due to previous OVI convictions and cited with failure to move over for a public safety vehicle and assured clear distance ahead.

Eibel has been convicted at least four times for OVI offenses, according to court records. He was convicted twice in July 1997 in Massillon Municipal Court, once in March 2002 in Canton Municipal Court and once in June 2013 in Barberton Municipal Court.

In addition, said Matos, OSHP is seeking a search warrant to download data from the computer system of the 2016 Ford Fusion that Eibel was driving in order to determine its speed at the time the car struck the rear of Bell’s cruiser, but it is uncertain what role that might play in Eibel’s court case.

“We just need to do due diligence,” he said.

Matos said Eibel was also injured in the crash, but has been released from Akron City Hospital.

Matos said the crash occurred in the construction zone on the northbound side near Steels Corners Road at 10:27 p.m. The cruiser, with Bell sitting in it, was parked in the left lane with its emergency lights flashing at the point where the lane closed when his cruiser was struck from behind by the Eibel’s car.

“A lot of construction workers were working in that area so [the officer] was there for safety,” said Matos. “And then this gentleman, the other party, was traveling north in the left lane and for whatever reason didn’t see the officer until the last second and it looks like he tried to swerve and miss him, but he ended up rear ending the Stow police officer’s car.”

Matos said there are no curves in the road in that area that would have blocked Eibel’s view of Bell’s cruiser.

″He was on a long straightaway so he should have been able to see him quite a ways ahead,” said Matos.

Stow police said the northbound lanes were closed for about 90 minutes following the crash.

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