SIDNEY — The Shelby County Board of Elections is temporarily relocating to the Shelby County Court House after a fire resulting from a crash into a utility pole on Thursday caused extensive damages. The crash was caused by a high-speed pursuit that ended with the collision of two-vehicles.
According to Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart’s press release, Dante D. Bradford, of Cincinnati, was charged with failure to comply with order or signal of a police officer after he crashed a silver and black Ford Crown Victoria in downtown Sidney. The case will be presented to the prosecutor’s office for consideration of additional charges.
Shelby County Board of Elections Chairman Chris Gibbs said, after an emergency meeting Friday morning, it was determined the office will be moved to the grand jury room on the first floor of the court house until further notice. Gibbs said operations are expected to be there for several months.
The public should be able to visit and phone into the new office location by late Monday afternoon, June 26. However, Gibbs said the office currently has email access, as it was not affected by the crash.
The Sheriff’s Office’s release said the pursuit began on Interstate 75 southbound at mile-marker 99 when Shelby County Sheriff’s Deputy Frank Bleigh went after a Ford sedan for no front license plate and speeding. Bradford pulled onto the I-94 exit ramp and stopped at the stop sign, but as Bleigh exited his vehicle, Bradford accelerated back onto I-75. When Bleigh reported he was in pursuit on I-75 and why, his supervisor advised him to terminate the pursuit.
Although Bleigh ended the pursuit, he notified dispatch that Bradford had exited I-75 and was eastbound on the Fair Road I-75 overpass. Deputy Ed Garrett was westbound near the Shelby County Fairgrounds on Fair Road when he observed a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle Bleigh had called in. According to the release, Bradford’s vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed. As Bradford approached Garrett’s vehicle, he drove across the yellow center line toward Garrett’s cruiser.
The release said, “Garrett had to take necessary measures to avoid being struck by the eastbound vehicle.”
Bradford continued eastbound on Fair Road at a high rate of speed through the intersection onto Water Street and turned north onto Miami Avenue. As he went through the intersection of Miami Avenue and Court Street, Bradford collided with an eastbound vehicle on Court Street.
After the collision, Bradford struck a utility pole and the front steps of a residence on the northeast corner of Court Street before coming to a stop. Bradford then exited the passenger side of the vehicle and ran from the scene. He was apprehended a short distance from the scene of the crash.
The crash into the utility pole caused stress on the power lines. Loud popping and sparking of lines could be observed on Miami Avenue before DP&L arrived. Stress to the power lines initially caused electrical damage and a small fire in the storage room at Shelby County Board of Elections. Sidney Fire Department responded to the fire, which was thought to have been contained.
According to the Sidney Department of Fire and Emergency Services press release, Sidney Fire Department then responded to a report of smoke coming from the roof area of Shelby County Board of Elections building at 4:33 p.m.
On arrival, firefighters found a working fire in the attic of the one-story structure. The building was not occupied at the time of the fire because it had been evacuated after the crash. Firefighters quickly controlled and extinguished the fire.
Shelby County Board of Elections Chairman Chris Gibbs said there was extensive damage to the Court Street building, including rafters, internal wiring and computer lines that come in from the secretary of state. He said the the voting equipment, including E-Poll Books, was not damaged and is being kept in storage quads in the Shelby County Emergency Management Association building.
According to Sidney Fire Deputy Chief Cameron Haller’s release, loss to the structure is estimated at $40,000 and loss to the contents is estimated at $10,000.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.