The Plymouth volunteer fire chief was charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in connection with an injury crash this week in Springfield TownshipRichard G. Metzger, 44, of 183 W. Broadway St., Plymouth, also was charged with failure to control in the single-vehicle crash that happened at 2:12 a.m. Sunday. The crash was investigated by the Mansfield post of the state Highway Patrol.
On Wednesday, Metzger pleaded not guilty to both charges in Mansfield Municipal Court. He has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Dec. 31 and a trial date of Jan. 22.
Metzger was northbound on Ohio 314 when he went off the left side of the road and hit an electrical pole, Sgt. Jerry Botdorf said. The Jeep Grand Cherokee overturned and hit a tree.
The crash split an Ohio Edison pole, causing the top half of the pole and a transformer "to come crashing to the ground," troopers said in a report. Power was knocked out temporarily in the area for an unspecified amount of time.
Metzger told Trooper Matthew Stoffer he was on his way home from The Den on Lexington Avenue, according to the Mansfield News Journal. The fire chief also said he had three beers and was driving too fast when he hit the railroad tracks and lost control, according to the news account.
"I don't see anything on (the trooper's) report that says that," Botdorf said about Metzger's statements.
Troopers brought Metzger to the Shelby Police Department, where he took a breath test. Botdorf said Metzger's blood alcohol content level tested at .144; the legal limit for drivers in Ohio is .08. Metzger was released at the station to a sober driver.
Metzger reported having minor injuries, but the trooper's report doesn't indicate he was transported from the scene.
Troopers had the Jeep Grand Cherokee towed from the crash site with heavy overall damage.
Metzger has been the Plymouth fire chief since Jan. 1, 2008. He also is a full-time firefighter for the Springfield Township Fire Department, which responded to the crash site. Chief Ron Henry has said he's looking into the matter.
Plymouth Mayor Tim Redden told the News Journal that Metzger didn't inform him of the incident, but he learned about it this week. Redden, the retired Plymouth fire chief, has contacted Plymouth Law Director Jon Burton, who planned to advise him of the village's rights in the matter.
"At this point, I'm waiting for guidance from our law director ... and I'm hoping to hear something from him (Thursday)," Redden told the Reflector. "Right now we're at a standstill."
Burton couldn't be reached for comment.
It's unknown if Metzger has any prior DUIs. He didn't return a call for comment Thursday.