Saturday, March 27, 2010


Many local businesses are holding fundraisers for the JAMES A. KERSTETTER MEMORIAL FUND. Today we hit Qdoba Mexican Grill in the parking lot of the Midway Mall for lunch. Henry Day, Regional Manager for Qdoba, said that as soon as he heard that Officer Kerstetter was killed in the line of duty on March 15th he knew he wanted to do something to honor his service to our community. “Right away we started talking about what would be appropriate and the best for the family and his memory. What we decided to do was set aside today and tomorrow as the fundraising days. We will donate 50% of all of the sales and after speaking with the people at First Merit they agreed to match our donations.”

When some restaurants make you bring a coupon and restrict the fundraising times to only a couple hours – Qdoba has put no restrictions on their event. Open to close Saturday and Sunday every customer who walks through the door will be counted. No need for a coupon or to say anything. Plus, with the partnership with First Merit Bank 100% of every customers ticket will be going to the Kerstetter Memorial Fund.

I encourage everybody to stop by Qdoba this weekend to support not only the Kerstetter Memorial Fund, but also to show the people at Qdoba and First Merit that we appreciate their amazing event.

The people at Qdoba are showing this weekend that they are a valuable part of this community. Other businesses could take a lesson from them as they plan similar fundraisers.

I would also like to mention the great people at Dairy Queen on North Abbe Road. They held a fundraiser on Thursday where every penny from their small cone sales went to the Kerstetter Memorial Fund. Dairy Queen raised $579.92 during their event. Dairy Queen could have left it at that – but they stepped up and matched the sales and will donate $1160.00 to the fund.

If you know of any other businesses that have or are having fund raisers like Dairy Queen and Qdoba please let us know. You can leave the information in the comments of this story.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Elyria – Patron’s at Ely’s Inn called Police to report that a black male had been exposing himself inside the bar late Wednesday night. When Police arrived the man was heading north on East Ave under the railroad bridge – patrons pointed at him and told Police “that’s the guy.”

Police yelled for the man to stop and talk to them several times but he just lowered his head, according to the Police report, and began to run. The man ran behind the JC Penny building towards the Black River. As Officers began to search the area they heard a loud splash and could see large swirls across the River in a west direction.

After 10 minutes of searching the Officers heard another splash. Then one Officer on the east side of the water saw the suspect, later identified as Andre Patton, swimming towards his side. The Officer watched Patton get out of the water and begin to climb up the shear bank of the river. The Officer ordered him to get on the ground. Patton continued to flee about another 50 feet down the river before he fell in again. The Officer following him had to give up his pursuit due to the dangerous conditions of the area.

Officers at the top of the hill on the East Ave side were able to spot Patton getting out of the water and ordered him to give up. Fatigued and still partially in the water Patton did give up – but now the question was how to get back up the hill to the Police Officers.

An Elyria Police Officer went down about 20 feet but had to be assisted back to the top of the hill due to the conditions.

Elyria Firefighters arrived and were preparing to assist Patton up the hill when he was able to get himself up high enough where Officers could grab him and get him to the top safely. Once at the top Patton was cuffed and arrested.

When Officers asked him his name he first advised Andre Gage, but later advised his real name was Andre Patton.

Officers spoke to the patrons at Ely’s who said Patton had been outside of the bar waiving a gun around but the two men that he was threatening had already left. Another woman said she heard the “clicking sound of a gun” but didn’t want to get involved.

Patton was charged with Resisting Arrest (M2) and Obstructing (F5).


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I have been getting Emails asking when our Photo Gallery from Officer Jim Kerstetter’s Funeral will be posted. I should have explained sooner but we were requested to shoot the funeral on behalf of the family and the Elyria Police Department. With our access we had photographs that were always meant only for the family. With that we had to sort through well over 1,000 photos to make sure only the appropriate photos are displayed in this gallery. I appreciate your understanding and patience.


Still to come are photo galleries from Brian Woods & Dan Matos – they will be posted this week.

On Friday night hundreds of people gathered outside of the Elyria Police Station for a candlelight vigil in honor of Officer Kerstetter. The turnout overwhelmed Officers & family members who attended. As Chief Duane Whitley climbed up on a ledge in front of the Station to address the crowd he took a moment and looked around at of the people. A soft “wow” came out of his mouth before he went on to thank the people and to extend the appreciation of the entire department for their outpouring of support.

The number of people attending was so large that West Ave had to be blocked and traffic diverted as people filled the street.

The crowd went silent and tears welled up as Kerstetter’s two oldest daughters exited the Police Station to speak. Chief Whitley knelt down to allow the girls to use his knee and a step to get up on the ledge to speak. The girls thanked the crowd for their support on behalf of their family and their dad. Their speech and appearance were brief as they had to return to the funeral home for calling hours. People in the crowd were, to say the least, impressed by the strength and composure of the two young ladies.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

“His Life Was Not Taken…

…He Gave It”
Elyria Police Officer Jim Kerstetter was honored today by thousands of people who lined the streets of Elyria as the funeral procession of 383 Police Cars and 40 Police Motorcycles made its way through the city.

The morning started at 7:30 a.m. at Bauer – Laubenthal – Mercado Funeral Home on Chestnut Ridge Road as Elyria Police Officers, Dispatchers, Auxiliaries and Civilian employees arrived. At 8:00 a.m. they entered the funeral home and paid their last respects to their fallen Brother and friend.

Shortly after the motorcade consisting only of Elyria Police, Lorain County Sheriff’s Department and a LifeCare Ambulance left the funeral home for LCCC. Riding in front of the hearse were Officers in Kerstetter’s Police Car with a drape over the light bar reading “Out of Service” and still bearing the “177” blue plates.

Shortly after the motorcade consisting only of Elyria Police, Lorain County Sheriff’s Department and a LifeCare Ambulance left the funeral home for LCCC.

The motorcade entered the college through the south drive and under a giant American Flag being suspended above by two Fire Department Ladder trucks from Sheffield Village and Avon. As they drove along the road on campus they witnessed the large number of Police vehicles.

The Cleveland Police Department Pipe and Drum Band played a drum cadence only as Kerstetter was carried into the Field House where thousands had gathered.

The service included speeches from Ministers, Mayor William Grace, Lt. Phil Hammonds and Kerstetter’s oldest and middle daughters. They told the audience that they were proud to be “Sponge Kids” and that they loved, respected and now miss their father.

Once the service concluded the hundreds of Police Officers went to their cars to begin the long procession that included a pause in front of the Elyria Police Station on West Ave. Making the turn by the Station the motorcade once again passed under a large American Flag, this time suspended by Tower trucks from Elyria and Lorain.

At the cemetery only Elyria Police joined the family and friends. After the final prayers by Father Krupp two American Flags were presented to the wife and mother of Kerstetter.

The silence of the moment was broken by a 21 shotgun salute presented by Avon Lake Police Department and then TAPS presented by two Ohio State Troopers.

While the Cleveland Police Department Pipe and Drum Band was finishing Amazing Grace a lone bagpiper began to play and walk away from the area while three Police helicopters, from Cleveland and the State Patrol, flew over.

After the service the family enjoyed lunch and fellowship with Officers from all over Ohio and around the United States and Canada at the Elyria Catholic coliseum.

During the service at the College Field House Father Krupp asked that Jim not be thought of as a victim. “Jimmy was not a victim. His life was not taken – He gave it.”

Please check back later for a complete photo gallery

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Officer James Anthony Kerstetter 43, of Sheffield Village passed away unexpectedly Monday March 15, 2010. He was born July 9, 1966 in Elyria.

Jim was a Police Officer serving with The Elyria Police Department. He was a 1984 Elyria West High School graduate; served in the U.S. Army as a Military Policeman. Jim had worked with The Lorain County Sheriff’s Department as a Corrections Officer, then as a Deputy Sheriff. He was also a part time Police Officer for the cities of LaGrange and Grafton. Jim served on the Swat Team (Special Response), and was an Instructor at L.C.C.C. Police Academy, and was schooled in accident reconstruction, and was a driving instructor for the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy (O.P.O.T.A.) He earned an Associate Degree in Applied Science from L.C.C.C.

Jim’s life was devoted to his wife and children. Survivors include his wife; Tammy (nee: Maroney) whom he married October 27, 1990, (3) daughters; Misty, Shelby, and Bailey all of Sheffield Village. He is also survived by his parents; James L. and Carol A. (nee: Tomasheski) of Elyria Twp., (3) sisters; Kathy of Elyria, Kelly Strickler (Tim) of Elyria, Kristy Sawyers (Gordon) of Elyria, (11) nieces and nephews, (3) great nieces and nephews. Jim is the son in law of Sandra McCrann (The late Richard) of North Ridgeville, and William Maroney of North Olmsted.

Family will receive friends 2-9PM Thursday and Friday at The Bauer-Laubenthal-Mercado Funeral Home 38475 Chestnut Ridge Rd. (at State Rt. 57) Elyria (440)322-4626.

Funeral Services 10:00 AM Saturday March 20, 2010 at the Field House at Lorain County Community College 1005 Abbe Rd. Elyria (PLEASE MEET AT THE COLLEGE) Rev. Fr. Albert A. Krupp, Pastor of St. Agnes Catholic Church in Elyria, and Rev. Chuck Behrens, Chaplain at Hospice of The Western Reserve will co-officiate. Burial will be at Resthaven Memory Gardens, Avon.

Memorial contributions in Jim’s memory can be made at any FirstMerit Bank location.


Elyria – Firefighters in Elyria were forced to battle two structure fires at the same time early Wednesday morning – one in the 900 block of Foster Ave and the second on Maple Street.

3:19 a.m. – Lorain County 9-1-1 receives a call of smoke and flames showing from a home in the 900 block of Foster Ave.

Assistant Chief Robert Dempsey said that when Firefighters rolled up on scene they had fire coming out of every window and doorway. “It was fully involved when we arrived on scene. We began hitting the fire with the deck gun off of an Engine and then Tower 8 got set up and began hitting it from the air.”

While Tower 8 was making progress from the air two hand lines were set up on either side of the structure to aid in the attack and also to protect exposures.

Dempsey said that Paramedics from LifeCare assisted a woman in a wheel chair out of the home next door to the fire house. “With the amount of fire we had coming out of the house I was concerned that if the shrubs and trees caught on fire her house might be next – so to be safe and for her well being we had her evacuated from her home.”

Once Dempsey saw how large the fire was he requested an emergency recall of personnel to fill the station to be able to cover the city.

3:55 a.m. – Lorain County 9-1-1 receives a call of a large amount of smoke in the area of South Maple Street.

Dempsey said that a call in crew responded to the scene and found heavy smoke coming from a vacant home and fire coming from the rear of the structure. “Once we realized that we had two working structure fires I called for a Mutual Aid Box Alarm. That brought us help from Carlisle and Lorain to the scene on Maple. We also called for assistance from Sheffield Village Fire Department to Maple Street as well.”

Maple Street was considered a defensive attack until mutual aid departments arrived – then fire crews began attacking the fire from inside of the home.

4:16 a.m. – The structure on Foster Ave collapses. Most of the house just fell into itself but the front fell forward into the front yard.

Assistant Chief Ron Brlas, who was working the Maple Street fire, said that they believe the fire started in the back of the home on the east side of the structure near a door. “The fire spread into a back kitchen area then up through stud pockets and into the attic.”

Both fires are currently under investigation by the Elyria Fire Department Fire Prevention Bureau. Anyone with information about the fires are asked to contact the Elyria Fire Department.




A candlelight vigil is being planned for Friday night at 8PM outside of the Elyria Police Station in honor of fallen Elyria Police Officer Jim Kerstetter.

Mike Van Akin along with two friends, Courtney Constitino and Jenny Baker, are organizing the Vigil. Van Akin said that they want to see the people that Kerstetter served for 15 years show up and pay their respects. “Officer Kerstetter gave his life while serving our community, this is certainly the least we could do to honor him and his family.”

Van Akin said he also hopes to see the community show up in force on Saturday during Kerstetter’s funeral to show everyone how much our community appreciated his 15 years of service.


Elyria – Elyria Firefighters had to deal with a situation that most of them have never heard of in their careers – two working house fires at one time.

The first call came in for a fully involved abandoned house fire in the 900 block of Foster Ave off Lake Ave at 3:16 a.m. When Firefighters arrived they found heavy fire coming from every corner of the home.

While Firefighters were battling that blaze they received word from Lorain County 9-1-1 at 3:55 a.m. of a possible structure fire on Maple Ave off Middle Ave. They had received calls from neighbors of heavy smoke in the neighborhood. Firefighters that had been called in to fill in the station responded to Maple Ave and found smoke coming from the home and fire shooting out of the back of the vacant home.

Check back later today for more details and complete PHOTO GALLERY


Fallen Elyria Police Officer Jim Kerstetter returned to Lorain County Tuesday afternoon from the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office in Cleveland.

With a large Police escort the Laubenthal – Mercado hearse, complete with Elyria Police emblems attached to the doors, made its way off of Route 10 and onto Route 57 around 4 p.m.

Once motorists realized what was happening people got out of their cars and saluted or held a hand over their heart as the motorcade passed.

Officers from Elyria and surrounding communities stood at attention saluting as their fallen comrade turned onto Chestnut Ridge Road heading to the funeral home.

Laubenthal – Mercado Funeral Home has announced the following public viewing times.
Public calling hours at the Laubenthal – Mercado Funeral Home at 38475 Chestnut Ridge Road
Thursday & Friday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Funeral Services Saturday will be held at the Lorain County Community College Field House at 10 a.m.
Officer Kerstetter will be laid to rest at Rest Haven Memory Garden in Avon following the funeral service.

Remember if you want to contribute to the JAMES KERSTETTER MEMORIAL FUND you may do so by going to any First Merit Bank.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Elyria – Elyria Police Officer Jim Kerstetter was shot and killed in the line of duty late Monday night.

Officer Kerstetter responded to a call in the 300 block of 18th Street just before 10 p.m. after a woman complained that a naked man had broken out her window and exposed himself to her young child.

Chief Duane Whitely confirmed to reporters that it was Kerstetter that had been shot and killed early Tuesday morning. Whitely called Kerstetter “One of the Best” and an “Outstanding Officer.”

The man who shot and killed Kerstetter was himself shot and killed by Officers after neighbors say he lunged at them with a gun. Neighbors say the man has had a lengthy criminal history as well as mental issues.

Before joining the Elyria Police Department 15 years ago, Kerstetter was a Deputy with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office.

Whitely said that the Lorain County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation.

Fellow Officers will be setting up the James Kerstetter Memorial Fund through First Merit Bank later this morning. ANYONE wishing to contribute may go to any First Merit Bank and do so.

Brian Woods

Monday, March 15, 2010


Camden Township – The elderly woman that ran a flashing stop light Sunday afternoon died from her injuries today around noon at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

Lorraine Holzapfel, 88, of Oberlin, suffered head injuries and other internal injuries during the crash. She was first taken to Allen Community Emergency Room for treatment. Holzapfel was later transported by ground with a LifeFlight Crew on board to MetroHealth because due to weather conditions Metro LifeFlight was not flying.


Camden Township – An 88 year old Oberlin woman was in critical condition Sunday afternoon after she crashed her car into another on Route 20 in Camden Township.

Trooper Charlie Jackson of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said that 88-year-old Lorraine Holzapfel of Oberlin was north on Route 511 when she failed to yield to a traffic signal. Holzapfel ran the red light and struck 17 year old Jennifer Langford of Elyria.

Langford was traveling east on Route 20 in her red Ford Fusion when she was struck.

Paramedics from Central Lorain County Ambulance District with the assistance from Camden Township Firefighters treated Holzapfel at the scene before she was transported to Allen Community Hospital. Holzapfel was later transported to MetroHealth Medical Center in critical condition. Her condition was not known at the time this story was posted.

Langford refused any treatment or transport from Paramedics.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010


UPDATE Friday 1:00 p.m.
The FLOOD WARING for the Black River at Elyria continues until further notice. At 9 a.m. Friday the stage was at 10.7 feet and falling. Flood stage is at 9.5 feet. Minor flooding is occurring and minor flooding is forecast. The river will continue to fall to a stage of 9.9 feet by Saturday morning.

The Next 48
Late Afternoon: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 63. East wind around 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Tonight: Occasional showers, mainly after midnight. Low around 44. East wind between 15 and 18 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Saturday: Occasional showers. High near 50. Breezy, with a east wind between 17 and 21 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Saturday Night: Showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 37. East wind between 10 and 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

The National Weather Service in Cleveland has issued a FLOOD WARNING for the Black River at Elyria.

The WARNING remains in effect until Thursday afternoon. At 9 p.m. Wednesday the stage was at 8.8 feet and rising. Flood stage is 9.5 feet. Minor flooding is forecast.

At 9.5 feet flooding begins in the southern part of Elyria and in Carlisle Township.



Just posted photos from Brian Woods’ coverage from the Highland Ct. fire & rescues – click the PHOTO GALLERY link below to check them out.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Elyria – With manpower low Tuesday morning for the Fire Department, Captain Joe Pronesti said he asked Elyria Police Officer Rick Walker if he could help with evacuations in the surrounding homes.
Walker, along with Sgt. Rich Ellis, Officer Jim Rider, Officer Paul Lesner and Officer Scott Ashley began going house to house to alert and evacuate families.

The first house was just to the left of the fire house – 112 Highland. Walker began pounding on the door with no response so he forced his way in by kicking the door. Walker found a child in the downstairs portion of the home and woke him up then began helping the rest of the family down from the 2nd floor. By the time everyone was together the heat and smoke near the door became too over powering so Walker decided to get everyone out through a window on the other side of the home. Just outside that window were Sgt. Rich Ellis and Officer Paul Lesner. Walker began handing babies and children to Ellis and Lesner who then handed them over to the parents. Officer Jim Rider then took the family to his patrol car to keep them warm as most had barely any clothes on their backs.

Walker and Lesner then went to the house just to the right of the fire house and evacuated 3 residents while Rider and Ellis went to a home just behind the fire house and assisted a wheelchair bound elderly woman out of the house to safety.

Officers checked other homes but found nobody inside. In all 11 people were evacuated by Officers and turned over to the Lorain County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The rescues took place just after the fire house had collapsed sending burning embers into the air throughout the neighborhood – creating an even more hazardous situation. Combine that with the extreme heat from the fire and the thick smoke it was amazing that all residents, Officers and Firefighters left the scene without injury.

PS: About an hour or so after the fire was knocked down and things began settling down an employee from Ohio Edison spotted people back inside of the house just to the right of the fire house. The worker was about to cut power to the house when a woman looked through the window to see what was going on. Officer Walker, along with an Elyria Firefighter and Justin Willis, went into the home and again assisted the people back out of the house – this time with belongings and pets.



Elyria – One home was completely destroyed while two others received fire and smoke damage after a suspicious fire on Highland Court in Elyria early Tuesday morning.

Captain Joe Pronesti of the Elyria Fire Department said they received a call just after 1 a.m. Tuesday morning of a possible structure fire on Highland. “I first started asking 9-1-1 to advise me if they were getting multiple calls but then as I pulled onto Lake Ave I could see smoke and the glow of fire across the road.”

Pronesti began requesting mutual aid from surrounding communities as he rolled up on the fully involved house fire. Firefighters from Sheffield Village, Lorain, Elyria Township and Avon were some of the first to respond for the call for help. “We arrived with only 10 guys on duty and I knew we would need more so that was our first problem. Then we discovered that we had very low water pressure near the structure so we had to find a good hydrant and finally did on Gateway near Lake Ave.”

Elyria’s newest fire truck, Tower 8, also caused problems for Pronesti as it was malfunctioning early in the battle. After some work Firefighters were able to get the Tower truck back in service and up in the air dropping water on the blaze. Pronesti called it the Trifecta of problems for his battle – low manpower, low water pressure and a malfunctioning Tower truck.

A water shuttle was requested but was canceled after arriving. Eaton Township and Carlisle Township had tankers manpower on scene if needed.

Houses to the right and left of the fire house received fire and smoke damage as well.

Firefighters battled the blaze for more than an hour before calling it under control and eventually out. A rekindle brought Firefighters back to the scene a couple hours later but that was quickly extinguished.

There were no injuries reported in the fire.

The Lorain County Chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting 3 families, 11 people in total, with housing, clothing and other necessities.



Elyria – What started as a routine traffic stop early Tuesday morning by a Lorain County Deputy Sheriff turned into a high speed chase and then a foot pursuit.

Once the driver of a red Pontiac fled from the Deputy he drove to the area of Westway Gardens off Infirmary Road. Once inside the complex the car just kept going around in circles before the driver bailed out of the car and took off on foot. While running from the cops the suspect lost a shoe and continued running with one bare foot.

While searching the area cops learned that the suspect had gone inside a residence on Barbara Street – just a block over from where he bailed out of his car. Police quickly surrounded the home and began pounding on the door with no response. Police continued to order for someone to open the door or they would break it down and send in the K9. With nobody responding an Elyria Police Officer used his body to force the door open. Once opened the K9, Stuka, was positioned at the door, it was at this point that a woman holding a baby approached and asked what was happening and continued to say that the man they were looking for was not in the home.

Officers searched the home and found the man, with one shoe and one bare foot covered in mud, in an upstairs bedroom. He was taken into custody by Sheriff’s Deputies.



Elyria – One home was completely destroyed and two others damaged by a fire that broke out early Tuesday morning at 114 Highland off Gateway Blvd.

Captain Joe Pronesti said the fire could be seen from the downtown area and was fully involved when Firefighters arrived.

Officers from the Elyria Police Department rescued 8 people from one home at 112 Highland. The family was sleeping when Officer Rick Walker kicked in the front door to get the family out. Walker passed babies and adults out through a side window to other Officers.

Check back later today for more details and a complete PHOTO GALLERY

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Elyria – When 33 year old Edward Whiteman of North Ridgeville ran after causing a 2 car crash on Broad Street in downtown Elyria early Tuesday morning, he didn’t count on a couple witnesses hunting him down.

Tim Fitzpatrick said he was having a cigarette with a buddy on Broad Street when he saw Whiteman leave Bugsy’s and get into his Bonneville that was parked across the street. Fitzpatrick and his friend, Joe Brown, watched as Whiteman backed out of his space and into the path of a PT Cruiser that was traveling westbound on Broad Street.

The collision caused heavy damage to the back of Whiteman’s Bonneville and moderate damage to the passenger side front of the PT Cruiser.

Whiteman fled the scene through the JGT Parking lot heading south with Brown closely behind. Fitzpatrick stayed with the three victims inside of the PT Cruiser telling them to remain still and to be calm. “I didn’t want them moving around because that might have made any injuries they had worse. The guy in the back seat got out of the car and started following the guy too but I told him that my buddy was chasing him and that he should get back in the car.”

Elyria Police rushed to find Whiteman and found him, with Brown right behind him, near St. Mary’s Church on 4th Street.

Whiteman was taken into custody by Police and returned to the scene where he was positively identified by witnesses. Whiteman was then charged with OVI and Improper Backing.

LifeCare Paramedics treated and transported three victims from the PT Cruiser to Elyria Memorial Hospital where they were all treated and released.


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