Vermilion woman charged in motorcyclist's death

VERMILION A Vermilion woman faces charges of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident
May 24, 2010



A Vermilion woman faces charges of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident in a Sunday morning crash that killed a motorcyclist.

Tiffany L. Eaton, 32, 3500 block of Edgewater Drive, told investigators that she "freaked out" and fled into the woods after a motorcycle hit her car on Liberty Avenue, according to a police report.

The crash occurred at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday near the intersection of Liberty and Avon avenues.

Joseph M. Haslage, 59, 1400 block of Hollyview Drive, was thrown about 38 feet from his Yamaha motorcycle and suffered a severe head injury.

He was pronounced dead at 12:15 p.m. at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

Responders found Eaton's 1997 green Ford Taurus abandoned at the scene, with the keys in the ignition and the engine running.

She faces two counts of vehicular homicide and one count each of leaving the scene of an accident and possession of marijuana, as well as a traffic citation for failing to obey a stop sign.

Vermilion police Chief Bob Kish said one vehicular homicide charge is a first-degree misdemeanor, reflecting the fact that she fled and failed to report the collision. The other count is a second-degree misdemeanor based on running the stop sign.

Kish said it will be up to the Lorain County prosecutor's office to decide which is appropriate.

Eaton told investigators she had two beers at The Driftwood before leaving at about 1 a.m. to go to Tina Young's house on Avon Avenue. She and Young decided to go to a gas station on Ohio 60 for some cigarettes.

According to Eaton, they turned westbound on Liberty Avenue when Haslage's motorcycle, going eastbound but driving in the westbound lane, struck the car.

Kish said, however, that the police investigation indicated Haslage was riding westbound when Eaton made a left turn to drive east on Liberty Avenue, driving into Haslage's path.

Eaton said she then ran into the woods near Avon Avenue and stayed there until about 8 a.m., when she returned to Young's house. She arrived at the police station at about 12:15 p.m. to make a statement.

Young, 30, is charged with making a false statement. According to the report, she told an officer she was injured when the motorcycle struck the passenger side of the car, which did not appear to have been struck.

Kish said the damage to the Taurus was in the center of the vehicle's front portion.

Eaton appeared Thursday in Vermilion Municipal Court, where she pleaded not guilty. She has a pretrial hearing scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday.