HOWLAND - The commander of the Ohio State Patrol Warren Post said investigators "cannot conclusively" say that the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash in the township on Sunday struck the woman whose body was found the next morning in the same area until forensic testing is completed.
In a news release issued today, OSP Lt. Brian Holt, commander of the Warren Post, stated that if testing concludes that the driver of that vehicle, Patrick Niess, 20, of Warren, did not strike Antoinette Ross, 55, of Howland, the OSP will then complete two separate crash reports, exonerating Niess.
If the results conclude Niess' vehicle struck Ross, the OSP will then consult the Trumbull County Prosecutor's Office for possible charges.
"In either case, we are certain that Mr. Niess did not realize that he struck Mrs. Ross," the statement read.
Holt reported that Niess was not under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the initial investigation.
On Monday, the Trumbull County 911 Center received a call that a person was unresponsive, lying in a ditch on King-Graves Road, east of State Route 46 in Howland.
The Howland Township Police Department and the Ohio State Highway Patrol responded to the scene. Ross was found and subsequently pronounced dead. There was no vehicle in the area at that time. Howland Township Police immediately recalled that they had responded Sunday evening to a one-vehicle crash in the same area, OSP reported.
That investigating officer was brought to the scene for clarity on what he had handled. It was immediately determined that the crash he responded to was most likely that which struck Ross.