Highway Patrol investigating crash that killed Bellevue teacher Robert Hoffman

BELLEVUE The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating a Sunday crash in Crawford County that kille
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010



The Ohio State Highway Patrol is investigating a Sunday crash in Crawford County that killed a popular Bellevue High School teacher.

Robert Hoffman, 51, an agricultural science teacher of 28 years, was pronounced dead at the scene of the wreck on Marion-Melmore Road, just east of Sycamore, said trooper Mark McLaughlin, with the Bucyrus post of Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Authorities have no clue what caused Hoffman's truck to veer off to the left, crossing the oncoming traffic lane before barreling off of the side of the road. Authorities' best guess is Hoffman either fainted or fell asleep.

"His status is unknown -- we don't know what was going on with him at the time of the accident. We don't know if he was asleep at the wheel or what," McLaughlin said.

At about 10:40 a.m. Sunday a motorist traveling south along Marion-Melmore Road saw a cloud of dust kicked up on the roadway, authorities said. Looking across a field on the right side of the road, the motorist spotted Hoffman's truck, a 1998 Chevy Silverado 500, which came to a rest about 90 feet off the county road.

Hoffman was traveling north on Marion-Melmore Road, headed back to Bellevue after dropping off a meat donation in Columbus, authorities said. He briefly drove through a field before crashing into an irrigation ditch, authorities said.

Hoffman was alone in the truck and was not wearing his seat belt. The initial investigation found he was traveling at about 55 mph -- the posted speed limit for that stretch of road.

Authorities have no clue what caused the crash, but do not suspect alcohol or drugs were involved.

"There were no tire marks and no (signs) that he made evasive maneuvers to avoid anything. The road's straight and pretty level right there, and his vehicle just starting drifting off to the left and went out into the field until it hit the embankment," McLaughlin said.

School administrators described Hoffman as irreplaceable.

"He was an excellent teacher -- one of our best teachers -- and one of the best FFA teachers in the state of Ohio," said superintendent Bud Martin. "He touched a lot of lives. ... The kids loved him who are in the program."

A memorial service is planned soon for Hoffman at the school.