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Man formally charged in double-fatality car accident

Justin T. Votaw
Justin T. Votaw
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Thursday, March 09, 2017 01:31 pm
Formal criminal charges have been filed against a Fort Wayne man allegedly involved in a fatal three-vehicle crash that resulted in the deaths of a couple last month, according to court documents. Justin T. Votaw, 31, of the 1900 block of Sheridan Road, was formally charged Thursday in Allen Superior Court with two counts of failure to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in death, Level 5 felonies; failure to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury, a Level 6 felony; and two misdemeanor counts of failure to remain at an accident resulting in bodily injury.

The accident resulted in the deaths of Jonny Tracy, 23, and Alisa Arseneau, 24, who were in the Volkswagen and were burned beyond recognition, according to the Allen County Coroner's Office.

The accident took place at 11:03 p.m. Feb. 20 in the 1800 block of West Jefferson Boulevard, when witnesses told police a 2004 Volkswagen Jetta was in the left lane and was losing control on the curve, when it allegedly bumped into a 2002 BMW, driven by Votaw. The Volkswagen continued traveling westbound sideways, crossing the center line with the BMW following the same path, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

The Volkswagen allegedly hit a Chevrolet Equinox traveling eastbound on West Jefferson Boulevard and then hit the BMW. The Volkswagen burst into flames upon impact with one or both vehicles, the affidavit said. 

The passenger in Votaw's BMW told police there were flames around the BMW and the Volkswagen was fully engulfed in flames. He struggled to get out, but did so, and saw the driver's door was open with Votaw nowhere to be found. He suffered minor injuries as a result of the accident.

The driver of the Chevrolet Equinox suffered serious bodily injury, but her passenger only suffered minor injuries in the accident.

Votaw showed up Feb. 21 at a local hospital, but the affidavit did not specify Votaw's injuries from the accident.

The owner of the BMW verified with investigators that Votaw was driving her car at the time of the accident, but he had contacted her and told her the driver of the Volkswagen allegedly caused the crash.

Votaw told police during a March 3 interview he didn't remember why he left the scene of the accident. He said he knew he was in the river because he was all wet and then woke up at a friend's house on Forest Avenue before going to the hospital, the affidavit said.


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