CANTON, Ohio — A suspected drunk driver is in custody, accused of fleeing the scene of a fatal head-on crash he allegedly caused.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol said the crash happened in the southbound lanes of Interstate 77 south of Canton just before 5:30 a.m. on Friday.
Leone Turpin, 28, was driving to work when he was hit by a minivan that crossed the median from the northbound lanes.
When troopers arrived at the scene, the driver of the minivan had disappeared.
Sgt. Leo Shirkey said Jesus Pelico, 20, of New Philadelphia, was found hiding in a ditch on Faircrest Road, about two miles away.
A witness reported seeing a second suspect standing outside of the van following the crash, but no one else was found following an extensive search that involved Stark County deputies and an Ohio State Highway Patrol helicopter from Columbus.
Shirkey said Pelico tested more than twice the legal limit for alcohol; he appeared not to have suffered any injuries.
Turpin’s father, Kermit Draper, a Canton pastor, told FOX 8 News he was not even aware of the crash until he passed the scene on his way to work and saw his son’s truck.
“We live together. He was on his way to work couple hours before me and I didn’t know anything about the situation. I was on my way to work and happened to see all the state troopers and realized it was something that took place as I drove by. I couldn’t hardly believe my eyes when I saw the truck,” said Draper.
Draper said his son was one week away from getting his commercial driver’s license.
“My son is the best thing that ever happened to me. He’s my oldest of three children, awesome, awesome talent, gifted and now newly-annointed man who has had his ups and downs in life, but God gave him a chance to get his life together and he did,” said Draper.
Pelico was taken into custody, processed and booked into the Stark County Jail.
He faces charges that include aggravated vehicular homicide, OVI, hit-skip and driving without a license.
“It’s funny that the very thing that we preach from the pulpit, be ready, get ready, stay ready because we just never know,” said Draper.