By Nick Walton
BELLEFONTAINE – The case of a Mutual woman accused of killing Marine Gunnery Sgt. Monica Plank in a pedestrian hit-skip was bound over to the Logan County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday.
Holly J. Fowler, 26, appeared in the Logan County Municipal Court via video arraignment and attorney Darrell Heckman waived a preliminary hearing, sending it to the Logan County Common Pleas Court.
Fowler’s bond was established at $50,000 and she was released from the Logan County Jail at 1:40 p.m. Tuesday after her bond was posted.
Fowler is charged with leaving the scene of a crash that resulted in the death of another and tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies, stemming from the Feb. 16 crash.
She was arrested Saturday and admitted to Bellefontaine police that she was driving the vehicle that hit Plank, of Stafford, Va. Plank was struck while walking just after midnight after leaving the 68 Grill, 1141 S. Main St., Bellefontaine.
Plank had been with her husband, Gunnery Sgt. Chris Plank, and died hours later at a Columbus hospital. The Bellefontaine Examiner reported that the Planks were at the restaurant while on military leave with her three children and his two, visiting his family. Mr. Plank is a native of the West Liberty area.
Mrs. Plank was laid to rest on Saturday in West Liberty at Fairview Cemetery, the same day that Fowler was charged.
Fowler’s vehicle, a burgundy Chevrolet Malibu LT, was impounded after Bellefontaine police met with her at TP Lanes, 300 E. Lake Ave., on Saturday. At that time, Fowler repeatedly denied knowledge of the crash or involvement in the crash despite officers and detectives noting damage to the passenger side of her vehicle consistent with the collision.
During a formal interview and interrogation, Fowler admitted driving the vehicle and hitting Mrs. Plank. She told officers she was alone at the time of the crash and was drinking prior to driving.
According to the Champaign County Municipal Court website, Fowler previously was cited for two traffic violations including one for failure to maintain assured clear distance ahead from a June 25, 2010, crash and another citation for driving while under suspension from April 29, 2011. Fowler was ordered to pay a $35 fine in the 2010 crash.
According to the officer narrative from the 2011 citation, Fowler was driving under a non-compliance suspension. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles website states a noncompliance suspension is for any driver and/or owner who fails to show proof that financial responsibility was in effect at the time of a crash, offense or random selection.
The narrative states that Fowler appeared to be unaware of the suspension. Fowler was placed on pretrial probation and ordered to pay $159.30 before the case was dismissed in July 2011.
Lt. Rick Herring told the Daily Citizen on Monday that Bellefontaine police are not aware of any previous traffic citations or criminal violations by Fowler in Logan County.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 220 or on Twitter @UDCWalton