Arrest made in fatal crash


A wreck that left a 63-year-old Seymour man dead has led to an 18-year-old involved being arrested on a reckless homicide charge.

Medical records show the Seymour teen, Garrett Lee Fields, had marijuana in his system when he failed to stop at an intersection south of Cortland, according to court records.

The wreck led to the death of Lee S. Ertel, according to the probable cause affidavit signed by Officer Tom Barker with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.

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Fields was arrested Thursday afternoon on a Jackson Circuit Court warrant and faces the reckless homicide charge, a Level 5 felony, along with charges of causing serious bodily injury when operating a motor

vehicle with a Schedule I or II controlled substance in the

body, a Level 6 felony, and

possession of marijuana, a

Class B misdemeanor.

The wreck that led to

Ertel’s death was reported at 7:46 a.m. Aug. 7 at county roads 400E and 550N.

Fields, who was on his way to work in Greenwood, was driving a Dodge four-door pickup truck west on County Road 550N when he was approaching County Road 400E, Barker said.

Police said Fields was supposed to yield the right-of-way at the intersection but kept going instead, striking Ertel’s driver’s side door.

Ertel was driving a Chevrolet utility pickup, traveling south on County Road 400E.

Police later saw that

there were no skid or brake marks to indicate Fields tried to stop.

Immediately after the crash, Ertel was trapped in his truck when Fields, who had to kick out his own truck’s door to escape, checked on him.

Fields said Ertel was

“not saying a lot and was mumbling.” A passer-by called 911.

Ertel was removed by Hamilton Township Volunteer Fire Department and Jackson County Emergency Medical Services personnel and flown to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, where he died. Fields also was flown to that hospital for his injuries.

Police discovered a lunch cooler inside the cab of Fields’ truck had a small plastic bag of marijuana in it, which Fields admitted was his.

Indiana University Health medical records show that Fields tested positive for the drug when the wreck occurred, Barker said.

On a later date, Fields, who said he was not under the influence when he was driving, told police he had dozed off before the wreck occurred.

Fields said he “remembers dozing off while passing the sewer plant and hitting the long straightaway and was blinking his eyes,” according to court records.

He said he closed his

eyes before “feeling the hit of the truck.”

Fields said he also remembered “opening his eyes for an instant and his head hurts,” according to court records.

He opened his eyes again and “sees the smoke and dash being all busted up … and he’s scared.”

The night before the wreck, Fields said he didn’t go to bed until 12:30 or 1 a.m. because he was hanging out with friends, according to court documents.

The day of the wreck, he woke up at 6:30 a.m. “like usual” for work and was “tired to begin with but he didn’t think he was that tired,” according to court documents.

Police said Fields estimated he was going 45 to 50 miles per hour before the impact.

Fields is being held

without bond at the

Jackson County Jail in Brownstown. Besides a tobacco citation, Fields has no criminal history, according to court documents.

If convicted of reckless homicide, he could spend up to six years in prison.

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