A driver in Jefferson County was arrested early Wednesday morning, hours after he abandoned the scene of an accident and caused an extensive search.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office says Charles Lahr, Junior faces charges of driving with a suspended license, failure to maintain control, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to transfer the title of a vehicle, and no proof of insurance. Lahr was booked into the Jefferson County jail.
Authorities say Lahr crashed his vehicle in a rollover incident sometime after 6:30 Tuesday evening, on Highway 34 at exit 214. The crash was reported at 6:45, but when deputies arrived a few minutes later, there was no sign of the driver. They had the vehicle towed and contacted the registered owner, who said he had sold the car a few months ago, but couldn’t remember the buyer’s name.
About an hour later, authorities received a call from a woman identifying Lahr as her uncle, saying he was the driver in the crash, and that he was badly injured. Multiple law enforcement agencies, fire departments and emergency responders launched a larger search of the area around the crash. The search included an Iowa State Patrol aircraft with forward-looking infra-red. After searching for over four hours with no success, the search was called off at 12:30 in the morning.
Just before 6:00 Wednesday morning, deputies were called to the post office in Lockridge, some nine miles from the crash site, on a report of a suspicious person. That person turned out to be Lahr, who was found with no apparent injuries and arrested.
The search for Lahr included Fairfield police, Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies, the Iowa State Patrol, fire departments from Fairfield, Packwood, Libertyville and Lockridge, and Midwest Ambulance.
As a reminder, a criminal charge is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.