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The Journal Gazette

  • Hoerger

Tuesday, July 10, 2018 1:00 am

New Haven driver faces DWI count in June fatal

Records: History of charges; back behind wheel year ago

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

A New Haven man who police say was drunk when he caused a fiery crash last month that left a woman dead has a history of drinking and driving, according to court records.

Jeremy J. Hoerger, 29, was charged Monday with reckless homicide and driving while intoxicated causing death in the June 29 wreck on Cuba Road – just southwest of Harlan – that killed Juliet Ann Taylor Schnebelt. His blood alcohol content was 0.27 percent – more than three times the legal limit – according to a probable cause affidavit.

Hoerger pleaded guilty to charges of operating while intoxicated charges in separate Allen County cases from 2010, 2012 and 2017. He pleaded guilty last year to a felony count of operating while intoxicated with a prior conviction and was sentenced to about a year on home detention.

He was accepted into the Restoration Court program, designed to help mentally ill offenders who repeatedly are arrested on drug- or alcohol-related offenses. A note in a court filing from May states Hoerger “is doing well” and transitioned to probation.

After Hoerger filed paperwork seeking special driving privileges, Allen Superior Court Judge David Avery signed an order July 12, 2017, allowing him to drive for 30 months for work, religious services, doctor's appointments, alcohol and substance abuse counseling or therapy, court appearances and “shopping for necessities between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.”

On June 29, Hoerger was driving a 1996 Chevy Blazer about 10 p.m. in the 11000 block of Cuba Road when he failed to negotiate a curve in the road, struck a sign and slammed into a tree on the passenger side, investigators said.

The vehicle caught fire.

“The impact with the tree was so intense that the tree crushed the Chevrolet's passenger side to the middle of the Chevrolet through the passenger seat where Juliet Schnebelt was seat belted in,” the affidavit states.

Witnesses pulled an unconscious Hoerger from the wreck, but Schnebelt could not be removed, police said. The affidavit says Schnebelt suffered a cervical spine fracture and “multiple blunt force injuries.”

Hers was the 10th traffic fatality in Allen County this year.

During a Monday hearing in Allen Superior Court, a judge set Hoerger's bond at $60,000, according to online court records. He is scheduled for another hearing Thursday. 

mleblanc@jg.net