February 26, 2023
By Hope Schmidt, POL Intern
At 3 a.m. on February 19, a Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office deputy attempted to stop a Dodge Charger speeding and driving recklessly on Hill Road, but the vehicle fled from the officer.
As the deputy traveled south, they discovered the Charger in flames at 8486 Hill Road NW (where Hill Road jogs onto Busey Road).
According to Fairfield County Sheriff Alex Lape, when the deputy arrived, the teenage driver and his two passengers (all aged 16-17) were “shook up” pretty badly and fading in and out of consciousness. One suffered a broken leg.
“They were very lucky that the deputy found them and pulled them to safety,” Lape said.
The deputy worked quickly to pull everyone free from the wreckage. Violet Township Fire Department doused the fire and transported the teens to local hospitals.
The Charger had been stolen from Columbus. One of the individuals in the crash had been charged in a prior vehicle theft.
“A lot of people like Chargers,” Lape said. “They have a reputation of being a fast car and have a great following.”
On February 11, someone had attempted to steal a Dodge Charger from a home near Milnor and Refugee Roads. In that case, the thief crashed the car almost immediately and it exploded. The driver left the scene before emergency crews arrived.
According to Columbus Police, in central Ohio, nearly two-thirds of the 8,000 vehicles stolen in 2022 were Kias and Hyundais. The city of Columbus announced last week that it would be suing those manufacturers because of the expense that the stolen vehicle investigations have incurred on the police department. Vehicles from both manufacturers do not require a digitally-coded key to start.
However, nationwide in 2022 the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) states that Dodge Chargers were the vehicle stolen most frequently (accounting for the theft of the entire car and not just parts).