An unemployed bricklayer with a history of driving offenses was charged this afternoon with fleeing in his father’s truck after striking four Lake County, Ind., correctional officers out for a jog on Tuesday, killing one.
Jason R. Cozmanoff, 42, of Crown Point, Ind. turned himself in to authorities at Sheriff John Buncich’s office on Wednesday night, the sheriff said at a press conference this afternoon.
Cozmanoff’s attorney, Mark Thiros, contacted Buncich earlier in the day and accompanied his client when he surrendered.
At the time he turned himself in, Cozmanoff was not yet a suspect. Buncich said police were still slogging through license plate databases to identify the owner of the truck.
“It was only a matter of time until we probably would’ve turned something up,” he said.
Cozmanoff did not make a statement to police, Buncich said. He is charged with four felony counts of failing to stop after an accident.
Together, conviction on the charges could carry a penalty of up to 17 years in prison.
But Buncich said police are taking statements, tracking down leads and awaiting test results that could lead to further charges, including possible driving under the influence charges.
Cozmanoff is currently being held with a $90,000 bail.
“It’s been a very emotional 72 hours for our department,” Buncich said, adding of the three surviving officers that “they’re all lucky to be alive. … Very, very lucky.”
The four officers were jogging east on a grassy strip along West 93rd Avenue near Taft Street in Crown Point when a dark blue 2002 Yukon struck them from behind around 7 p.m. Tuesday. Buncich said that the truck is registered to Cozmanoff’s father.
The truck apparently accelerated before striking the four, police said earlier this week.
Police seized the truck – which has “really extensive damage” – from a garage at the home where Cozmanoff lived with his father.
His father has been questioned by police and could potentially face charges also, Buncich said. Police also seized evidence from their home that was “very helpful,” he said.
Gary, Ind. native Britney Meux, 25, was killed in the crash. She will be laid to rest with full police honors on Monday at First Baptist Church in Hammond, Ind., Buncich said.
A fund for Meux’s 7-month-old daughter Savannah has been established, and donations can be made at any Centier bank branch in Lake County, Ind., he said.
Buncich on Friday also updated the conditions of the other officers injured on Tuesday night.
Delano Michael Scaife, 22, who joined the department just four months ago, remains at an Indianapolis hospital where he was airlifted after the accident. Scaife is in good condition after undergoing two surgeries this week with other surgeries planned for next week, Buncich said.
Latasha Johnson, 34, had surgery to insert metal rods into her broken arm but has returned home, he said.
David Murchek, 26, is for now unable to walk after suffering a broken ankle and severe injuries to his other ankle.
Cozmanoff’s attorney did not return a call seeking comment Friday.
His client pleaded guilty in 2009 to a public intoxication charge after being charged with operating while intoxicated, records show.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times