Pomeroy Man Indicted in Fatal Crash

POMEROY, Ohio – A man has been indicted for his alleged involvement in a motor vehicle collision that resulted in two deaths.

According to the Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney James K. Stanley on September 10, 2019, the Meigs County Grand Jury indicted Austin Halfhill, 22, of Pomeroy, Ohio for multiple offenses related to the death of two Athens County residents as a result of a traffic crash on August 4, 2019.

Halfhill is alleged to have driven his Nissan Altima left of center on State Route 7 near Chester, Ohio, and crashed into a motorcycle being operated by John McElfresh of Glouster, Ohio.  Brenda Suttle, also of Glouster, Ohio, was a passenger on the motorcycle.  Both McElfresh and Suttle died from their injuries at the scene.  Halfhill is alleged to have presented with indicia of being under the influence of a control substance after the crash and is alleged to have admitted using methamphetamine and buprenorphine before the crash.  A subsequent urine analysis allegedly indicated the presence of methamphetamine, amphetamine, and buprenorphine in Halfhill’s system at the time of the crash.  Halfhill is also alleged to have been operating his motor vehicle with a suspended license.

Halfhill was indicted for three counts of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of Drugs, each a misdemeanor of the first degree; two counts of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, each a felony of the first degree; two counts of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, each a felony of the second degree; and two counts of Vehicular Manslaughter, each a misdemeanor of the first degree.  Halfhill, who has been jailed since August 4, 2019, remains in the custody of the Meigs County Sheriff’s office and will appear before Judge Linda R. Warner in the Meigs County Court of Common Pleas for arraignment on September 11, 2019 at 8:30 a.m.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol investigated this matter, and the Chester Volunteer Fire Department, Meigs EMS, and the Meigs County Coroner’s Office assisted at the scene.

For informational purposes, possible penalties for felony offenses committed before March 22, 2019 include: felonies of the first degree- 3-11 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine; felonies of the second degree- 2-8 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine; felonies of the third degree- 9-36 months in prison and up to a $10,000 fine; felonies of the fourth degree- 6-18 months in prison and up to a $5,000 fine; felonies of the fifth degree- 6-12 months in prison and up to a $2,500 fine.  Possible penalties for first and second degree felonies committed on or after March 22, 2019 include: felonies of the first degree- a minimum sentence of 3-11 years in prison with an indefinite maximum sentence of up to 16.5 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine; felonies of the second degree- a minimum sentence of 2-8 years in prison with an indefinite maximum sentence of up to 12 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.  For most felonies of the fourth and fifth degrees, sentencing guidelines found in the Ohio Revised Code require first-time offenders to be sentenced to community control unless certain conditions exist permitting the imposition of a prison sentence.