ROSELAND — A Goshen man has been charged with failure to stop after an accident resulting in death, a Class C felony, in St. Joseph County.
Jeremy Bontrager, 24, 14890 C.R. 40, Goshen, was arrested in connection with the death of Ronald Rogers, 56, Roseland, who was struck and killed by a vehicle shortly before midnight Friday along Ind. 933, just south of the Toll Road in Roseland.
Bontrager is a part-time paramedic with Osolo Township Ambulance Service, according to EMS Director Robin Martin. Martin gave no comment on whether Bontrager has been suspended from the department since the incident.
He was arraigned Tuesday in St. Joseph County Superior Court 3 and gave a plea of not guilty. His initial hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 28 at 9 a.m. His attorney is Gary Lee Griner, Mishawaka.
Roseland police were called to the scene at 11:52 p.m. They found Rogers in the northbound lane.
Officers spoke to witnesses who had been driving on Ind. 933.
One witness said he was traveling north on Ind. 933 when he saw an object in the road. He changed lanes to avoid it. As he passed, he noticed it was a person, the witness said in an affidavit to the court. The witness stopped his vehicle, attempted to stop traffic and called 911.
While he was trying to stop traffic, a vehicle that was unable to merge with other traffic struck Rogers’ body.
The next day, police received a call from a co-worker of Bontrager’s. The co-worker said Bontrager told him he “thinks he hit something last night,” the affidavit reads.
Officers located Bontrager at his workplace, which was not named in the affidavit. Bontrager was taken to the Mishawaka Police Department to be interviewed.
In the affidavit, police said in that interview Bontrager told them he was out with friends at Fiddler’s Hearth and consumed two beers and some french fries. He left at 11:30 p.m. He was driving his 2006 Dodge Charger north in the right lane of Ind. 933; it was rainy and he couldn’t see. He heard a loud bang, the affidavit continues. Bontrager said he thought he struck an animal. He turned around in the Wendy’s parking lot to see what he hit and didn’t see anything. He then pulled off the damaged parts of his windshield and continued home.
In the affidavit, police reported Bontrager threw the windshield in a trash can outside a house. Bontrager wasn’t sure he had hit anything but after seeing the information about the crash on the news that morning he considered going to the South Bend Police Department.
Capt. Timothy Spencer said he obtained a search warrant for Bontrager’s car and it appeared to have damage consistent with a pedestrian strike.
Bontrager was taken to the St. Joseph County Jail.