Whitehall News

Nov. 30 fatal collision with cruiser

Lightle estate seeks financial compensation from city


A law firm representing the estate of a man killed in a collision with Whitehall police is seeking financial compensation for the fatal accident, city attorney Mike Shannon said.

Vernon L. Lightle, 78, was killed early Nov. 30 after a collision with a Whitehall police cruiser, whose driver was backing up officers pursuing a man who had fled from a woman's residence.

"We have been contacted by a firm representing (Lightle's estate)," Shannon said, adding that the city and the firm representing Lightle's family are investigating the incident.

No precise amount is being sought.

Shannon said he believes the city is immune because police were responding to an emergency, but he will respond to the law firm's claim.

Whitehall police arrested the man who fled from the scene Nov. 30.

Matthew S. Jones, 29, of Collingwood Avenue, was charged with felony fleeing, aggravated menacing and violation of a protection order.

He pleaded guilty to a felony count of failure to comply with the order of a police officer, according to Franklin County Common Pleas Court records.

In the early morning hours Nov. 30, Jones allegedly called an ex-girlfriend and threatened her.

Police were observing her Washburn Street residence when Jones arrived at the woman's residence. Police pursued him from the scene at 4:30 a.m. Nov. 30.

Whitehall officer Enrique Ortega, a four-year-veteran of the department, was responding to backup officers pursuing Jones from the residence.

Ortega was westbound on East Main Street with lights and sirens activated when he collided with Lightle, who was northbound on Beechwood Avenue, driving a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt.

Lightle was en route to his job at Jolly Pirate Donuts.

Ortega was admitted in serious condition at Grant Hospital but is expected to make a full recovery.

Lightle, of Collingwood Avenue in Columbus, was pronounced dead at an area hospital, police said. He is survived by his wife of 48 years and three children.

Jones fled from the scene Nov. 30 but was arrested four days later.

Police arrested Jones at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4, following a short vehicle pursuit and foot chase. An undercover Whitehall officer observed Jones and another person meeting in a parking lot shortly after 10 a.m. Dec. 4 and followed Jones.

The undercover officer called Columbus police, who attempted a traffic stop on Jones.

Jones fled for a short distance before running away from the vehicle and into a neighborhood, where he was arrested at a residence in the 400 block of East Woodrow Avenue.