NORTH RIDGEVILLE — Jeremy Casey, who was killed after crashing his car following a short police chase, was more than just a man with a criminal record, friends and family said.
“We didn’t know that Jeremy,” Brenda Roysden said Monday. “We just know him as a good guy.”
Roysden is the grandmother of Tricia Hart, Casey’s girlfriend and mother of the couple’s 14-month-old baby.
“He was going to marry my granddaughter,” Roysden said. “He was good to my granddaughter and good to the baby. He was a wonderful guy. He may have done something wrong when he was young, but he had straightened up.”
Casey, 32, died about 3:30 a.m. Sunday following a police chase along Center Ridge Road that lasted barely a minute.
Police said Casey, who had a police record and convictions for assault, domestic violence, drunken driving and other charges, stopped briefly before driving around a police cruiser and fleeing at a high rate of speed after police responded to reports of a driver passed out in the drive-through of the city’s McDonald’s restaurant at Center Ridge Road and state Route 83.
Police arrived just as Casey, who was awakened by another person, started driving away in his Chevy Impala, even as officers attempted to prevent him from leaving by blocking the drive-through lane.
The speed at which Casey drove was not immediately known, but the 1½-mile chase lasted just under a minute, police said, ending when Casey’s car crashed into a wall at a Walgreens at the junction of Center Ridge and Lear-Nagle roads.
Casey was thrown from his vehicle, which landed on top of him, according to fire department reports. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Lorain County Coroner’s Office is investigating to determine a cause of death. Police said alcohol was suspected to be a factor, but the results of toxicology tests were not yet available from the coroner.
Roysden said she couldn’t believe Casey was drinking prior to the time of the chase.
“He may have gone to get something to eat before he went to my daughter’s (Patricia Hart, where my granddaughter (Tricia) was.) He was probably hungry. We had the whole family staying here, and they ran out of food.”
Roysden said Casey may also have been tired or taking medication prior to the chase and subsequent fatal crash.
“I know (police) thought he was drinking, but there’s no proof of that,” Roysden said. “He hadn’t done things like that since he’s been with my granddaughter. If he was (drinking), I’d tell you so because I wouldn’t like him. But everybody liked him.”
Roysden said the couple had been together a few years and shared a home. Tricia Hart had just turned 21.
Police reports released Sunday did not indicate if Casey was pursued by police for factors other than his having fled the McDonald’s parking lot.
Calls to police Capt. Marti Garrow were not returned Monday, but North Ridgeville Law Director Andrew Crites released a copy of the police department’s 2006 vehicle pursuit policy that stated “the responsibility for the decision to overtake or pursue another vehicle rests on the individual officer.”
The policy further states that such pursuits are deemed justified “only when the officer knows or has reasonable grounds to believe the suspect is attempting to evade apprehension.”
The chase policy also stated pursuits must be weighed against interests of protecting the public and terminated when risks to police or public safety outweigh “the danger to the community if the offender is not caught.”
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.