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Man Charged In Hit-And-Run That Killed Correctional Officer

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Jason R. Cozmanoff, 42, of Crown Point, Ind. has been charged in connection with the hit-and-run incident that left a correctional officer dead. (Lake County Sheriff's Department)

Jason R. Cozmanoff, 42, of Crown Point, Ind. has been charged in connection with the hit-and-run incident that left a correctional officer dead. (Lake County Sheriff’s Department)

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UPDATED 03/09/12 4:45 p.m.

CROWN POINT, Ind. (CBS)– A 42-year-old Crown Point, Ind. man has been charged in connection with a hit-and-run incident earlier this week that left a correctional officer dead and three of her colleagues injured.

Jason R. Cozmanoff is charged with one count of failure to stop after an accident resulting in death and three counts of failure to stop after an accident resulting in serious bodily harm, Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said Friday.

His bond was set at $90,000, and authorities held out hope they may be able to stiffen the charges.


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Police say Cozmanoff, an unemployed bricklayer, has a checkered driving history that includes previous drunken driving charges.

Police wouldn’t say whether they suspect Cozmanoff had been drinking Tuesday night when he plowed into the correctional officers, which resulted in the death of correctional officer Britney Meux, 25, outside the government center at Crown Point. But, considering the damage done to the SUV believed to have hit them, the sheriff said the three surviving officers are fortunate.

“They’re all lucky to be alive,” Buncich said.

The four correctional officers were on a training run around the perimeter of the government center.

The suspect turned himself in Wednesday night, and the vehicle he was allegedly driving has been impounded.

Meanwhile, the memorial outside the government center complex serves as a reminder of the life of correctional Officer Britney Meux, 25, who was killed in the crash. The single mother had worked as a correctional officer for three years.

The driver hit Meux and her colleagues along a stretch of 93rd Avenue near Main Street around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The collision was so severe that Meux, a mother and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, was killed instantly.

The three other officers — David Murchek, 26; Latasha Johnson, 34; and Delano Scaife, 22 — were seriously injured in the crash. Scaife was so badly injured, he was airlifted to a hospital in Indianapolis, where he underwent surgery Wednesday morning. Johnson suffered a broken arm and possible internal injuries and was released from Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Crown Point. Murchek was released from the same hospital on Wednesday.

Murcheck’s neighbor, Mary Shoemaker, says he is unable to walk but is confident he’ll recover. It’s his state of mind that’s she’s most worried about.

“He’s replaying it. He’s thinking about his friend that passed away,” she said.

About 24 hours after he allegedly fled the scene, the driver accompanied by his attorney turned himself into police.

Visitation for Meux is 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at Ridgelawn Funeral Home in Gary, Ind. Her funeral is 11 a.m. Monday at the First Baptist Church in Hammond. A crowd of 1,000 police and firefighters is expected.

The Savannah Beiley Hardiman Fund has been established to assist the five-month-old daughter Meux.  Donations can be made at any Centier Bank, the sheriff said.

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