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Felony charges filed over death in Jeep rollover

– David Hitzfield went out in October last year to enjoy a night of riding in a Jeep along an off-road trail.

It would be the last time he ever enjoyed a night with friends.

Hitzfield, 52, was killed when the Jeep he was riding in rolled down a hill and pinned him underneath it.

After months of waiting for toxicology results, prosecutors Friday charged the driver of the Jeep with several felonies in Hitzfield’s death.

Those results showed that Carly J. Smith, 24, of Markle had a blood-alcohol level of 0.18 percent, more than twice Indiana’s legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to a probable cause affidavit.

She faces charges of operating a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 percent or more causing death, operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death and two counts of criminal recklessness.

When emergency responders were first called to the crash Oct. 21, they had a tough time finding the location near the 13000 block of Neahlongquah Lane, near Aboite and Kress roads, because they were first given the wrong location.

As they arrived at the scene, they found a Jeep on its top with Hitzfield’s legs sticking out from under it, the affidavit said.

In the garage of a nearby home, police said they found the driver of the Jeep, later identified as Smith, curled into a ball on the floor and crying.

Initially, Smith’s father said he was the driver of the Jeep, but another passenger said Smith was the driver, the report said.

Smith told police she drove the trail “hundreds” of times in both the Jeep that she wrecked that night and her own.

She said they almost made it up the hill but the Jeep then slid backward and rolled. Smith told police she thought they hit a root or some other object that threw off the vehicle’s balance.

The other two passengers in the Jeep suffered minor injuries.