Judge: Prison for drunk driver’s 2nd deadly crash

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The operator of an off-road vehicle that veered off a southwest Allen County roadway and flipped, killing a passenger, in September 2016 has been sentenced for drunken driving.

John Stephenson, Jr. was sentenced in Allen Superior Court on Friday to 8 years in prison and 4 years of probation for operating while intoxicated and causing the Sept. 23 death of 21-year-old Alex M. Tetzloff of Sandusky along Kress Road, just south of Airport Expressway. As part of his deal with county prosecutors, Stephenson’s license will be suspended for 5 years after he’s released and four other charges against Stephenson will be dropped.

An off-road vehicle crashed along Kress Road in September 2016, killing a passenger.

Emergency crews were called around 2 a.m. that September night to the 8000 block of Kress Road. There, investigators found a John Deere Gator on its side just off the road.

Investigators said two men were riding in the utility along Kress Road when it left the roadway and sped into a ditch. The off-road vehicle then flipped.

Tetzloff died of blunt force trauma due to a motor vehicle crash. Stephenson was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

At the time, police said alcohol may be a factor in the crash. It was.

John Stephenson, Jr.

In court Friday, Stephenson ask for forgiveness from Tetzloff’s family, which filled the courtroom’s gallery.

“I truly am sorry from the bottom of my heart,” Stephenson said through tears.

Becky Tetzloff, Alex Tetzloff’s mother, said her family has struggled to deal with the tragedy.

“All because you decided to drink, drive and kill again,” she said. “We will never get to see Alex fulfill his dreams because you took that away from us. We hope your days filled with sadness like ours.”

The September incident was Stephenson’s fourth drunken driving conviction. In a 1995 incident, a person died.

Stephenson was also ordered to pay restitution of $13,552.05 to pay for the funeral, burial and headstone expenses.