A west Columbus man has been charged with striking an elementary school crossing guard with his pickup truck and scattering student bystanders during dismissal time Dec. 12.
When nearby drivers tried to use their vehicles to block the man’s truck, he barreled over a curb and sidewalk and maneuvered through a nearby field to get away.
But Franklin County deputy sheriffs were able to track down the suspect at his home later that afternoon, after receiving tips from those who witnessed the alarming scene in front of Prairie Lincoln Elementary School.
Paul Doddridge, 63, was charged with reckless operation, leaving the scene of an accident, failing to obey traffic-control devices and ignoring marked lanes.
Doddridge already had switched the license plates on his Ford F-150 when deputies arrived at his home, but he ultimately admitted to striking the crossing guard and leaving the accident scene at Amesbury Way and Schoolhouse Lane, deputies said.
The crossing guard, teacher Erin Woody, 43, sustained minor injuries. He has worked for the South-Western school district for 16 years, spokeswoman Sandy Nekoloff said. Woody was wearing safety equipment.
No students were injured.
South-Western officials provided deputies with a video of the crash to assist with the investigation, which is posted on the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office social media pages.
The district thanked deputies for their help and issued a statement Friday.
“We are grateful our teacher was not seriously injured and none of our students were harmed during this incident,” it said. “Keeping our children safe is one of our most important responsibilities. We, too, would like to remind motorists to drive safely in school zones and be aware of students outside before, during and after the school day.”