Pierceton Man Dies In ORV Accident

(Photo Supplied / Department of Natural Resources)

A Pierceton man died from injuries he sustained as a passenger in a Saturday night off-road vehicle accident, and the driver of the ORV was arrested.

Jason Tolle, 45, Pierceton, was airlifted Saturday to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne Saturday and died from blunt force trauma, according to Indiana Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division Public Information Officer Ashlee Jackson.

Kosciusko County Central Dispatch received a 911 call just at 7:40 p.m. Saturday advising of an ORV crash with injury. It was reported that the passenger of the ORV was unresponsive and that CPR was being administered by a passerby. It was also reported that the driver fled the scene on the ORV, according to Jackson.

Preliminary investigations indicate that a white 2014 Polaris Ranger was being operated by Joel Zehner, 39, on EMS R4 Lane when the crash occurred. An adult male, believed to be the passenger, fell out of the ORV as it made a turn, and the ORV rolled to its side, pinning the male passenger.

The driver fled the scene on the wrecked ORV, and Whitley County Sheriff deputies located the abandoned ORV, 3 miles from the crash scene at Deniston Natural Resource Area on Old Road 30 at the Kosciusko and Whitley county lines.

A Whitley County K9 unit tracked the driver across the property, according to police, to a campsite, where the driver displayed a firearm.

Around 9:15 p.m. Saturday, officers on scene were able to talk the driver into putting the firearm down, and Zehner was then taken into custody.

Responding agencies including Indiana Conservation Officers, Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office, Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, Pierceton Police Department, North Webster Police Department, Kosciusko County Fatal Crash Team, Warsaw Medic 7, Milford Medic 1 and Lutheran Air.