FORT WAYNE – A 17-year-old girl was killed early Saturday when a drunken driver who police said was fleeing the scene of a shooting ran a red light and struck her car.
Haley M. Nellum, a sophomore at Bishop Dwenger High School, died at the scene of the crash at Stellhorn and Hobson roads.
The driver of the car that ran the red light, Jeremy D. Washington, 35, is facing preliminary charges of operating while intoxicated and causing death, aggravated battery and criminal recklessness causing serious bodily injury.
Police said that just after midnight they were called to the Corner Pocket Pub at 3215 St. Joe Center Road on reports someone had fired a gun.
Witnesses said they heard gunshots and saw two cars leave the parking lot southbound at high speed.
The crash at Hobson and Stellhorn occurred about three minutes later. Hobson Road becomes St. Joe Road north of Stellhorn.
A few minutes after the crash, a car carrying a shooting victim showed up at the emergency room of a hospital.
The car had bullet holes in it, police said. The man told police he had been shot in the parking lot of the Corner Pocket Pub.
Police determined all three events were related. They said occupants of the car involved in the crash got into an argument with some people in another car in the parking lot of the bar and opened fire. Both cars then fled at high speed.
Witnesses to the crash said the vehicle that was carrying the alleged shooter ran a red light at Stellhorn and Hobson and struck Nellum’s car, which was traveling east and was not involved in the shooting.
Police said that at the scene of the crash, Washington was able to get out of the car but that a passenger was trapped and had to be removed by the fire department. Washington was taken to a hospital in fair condition, and his passenger was taken to a hospital in serious condition.
Meanwhile, the shooting victim was transferred to another hospital in serious condition.
Police said they are interviewing witnesses and that Washington is in custody.
Nellum, who had played junior varsity and varsity basketball and volleyball at Dwenger, was on her way home from visiting a friend when the crash happened.
Her mother, Laura Nellum, said her daughter had gotten her driver’s license only eight days before.
The crash happened about a half-mile from where Nellum lived.
She said her daughter loved sports and participated in them at every opportunity.
She helped with elementary students and had helped her sister with the Special Olympics recently.
Sports weren’t part of her long-term goal, though. She had expressed an interest in becoming a nutritionist.
Cleveland Inge, girls basketball coach at Dwenger, described Nellum as “a really good kid, an outstanding kid” who helped out with the summer league middle-school teams.
“She was a very well-liked player,” Inge said.
“Everybody loved her. She was always smiling all the time and had a positive attitude always,” he added.
Inge said she was a great student and that it was just hard to believe that something like this could happen.
“I’m telling you,” Inge said, repeating that she was an outstanding student. “You hear that a lot when this happens, but she was.”