Officer killed south of Toledo trying to stop fleeing car on I-75

Associated Press

Bluffton, Ohio — A police officer in Ohio was struck and killed by a fleeing car on Interstate 75 during a high-speed chase through multiple counties Wednesday, authorities said.

The officer, Dominic Francis of the Bluffton police department, was struck around 2:30 a.m. while he was setting up stop sticks, which flatten tires, said Sgt. Brice Nihiser of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The chase had reached speeds up to 120 mph.

Three people inside the car drove away for a short distance before they jumped out and ran. One was found nearby while a second one was arrested in a stolen car in Elyria, about 100 miles northeast of Bluffton, Nihiser said.

Authorities were continuing to look for a third person.

The search caused schools in the nearby village of Bluffton, which is about 60 miles south of Toledo, to cancel classes, and Bluffton University told students to stay in their rooms and advised employees to stay home. I-75 was shut down while authorities looked through barns and farm fields and around houses.

The chase first began near Marion when authorities saw the car going more than 100 mph and continued across several counties, Nihiser said.

Francis, 41, had been an officer in Bluffton the past nine years, said Police Chief Ryan Burkholder. He also worked as a school teacher, bus driver and as a football and softball coach with Cory-Rawson schools.

“He had a heart of gold,” Burkholder said.