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Vermilion man charged after hit-skip crash

Courtney Astolfi • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Austin Verhoff, 20, 4900 block Oakview Drive, was charged with hit-skip on a roadway, underage consumption, criminal mischief, obstruction, unauthorized use of motor vehicle, marijuana possession, drug possession, driving under suspension and probation violation.

A Vermilion man heard a crash shortly after midnight Jan. 2, then saw a Ford Focus — later identified as belonging to Verhoff’s grandfather — back away from a damaged park car and flee the scene, according to a Vermilion police report.

Officers followed tire tracks in the snow to a Forestview Drive home, where the car had gone off the road, striking a brick post and mailbox before continuing on, the report said.

From there, the tracks led officers down West River Road, where it appeared the vehicle weaved back and forth, skidding at corners.

The path eventually ended on Liberty Avenue at the Vermilion Boat Club. Verhoff’s Focus was parked in the lot, with its engine still warm, the report said.

Officers observed footprints between the driver’s seat and the club’s locked back door.

Police searched the building and soon found Verhoff hiding behind a door in a second-floor bathroom, the report said. In a bathroom trash can were two beer bottles, still cool to the touch.

Verhoff said he is a former employee of the Vermilion Boat Club, and went there to help two current employees prepare for the following day, the report said.

When questioned about his reckless driving, Verhoff said it was due to iced-over windows and blowing snow. He also said he asked his grandmother if he could drive the Focus, but she later told police Verhoff took it without permission, the report said.

As officers prepared to take Verhoff to jail, he procured a large pill bottle from his pants containing a half ounce of marijuana and three Xanax pills, the report said.

Verhoff was also arrested Aug. 23 at Ohio 2 and Risden Road for allegedly operating a vehicle while under the influence, according to an Erie County deputy’s report.

Verhoff was taken to the Erie County jail, where he remains without bond.

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