Police identify victim in alcohol-related fatality

Herald Staff Writer

HUNTINGBURG — Authorities have released the names of those involved in an alcohol-related fatality Friday night northwest of Huntingburg.

Nicholas L. Ebert, 27, of Huntingburg, was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital in Jasper after being extricated from an SUV that had flipped onto its roof into a ditch full of water off County Road 400S, according to the Dubois County Sheriff’s Department.


Bryan S. Hakenjos, 23, who is from Groton, Conn., but residing in Jasper as a trainee of a local company, was driving the 2000 Jeep Cherokee when it crashed, according to authorities. Deputies arrested him and charged him with a Class B felony count of drunken driving resulting in death (blood alcohol content .15 percent). He was also cited for driving too fast to avoid a collision.

Deputies were called at 11:49 p.m. to the report of a vehicle accident with entrapment off County Road 400S, a mile west of County Road 400W.

Police said the Jeep Cherokee was southbound on County Road 550W when Hakenjos lost control on the gravel road in a 90 degree curve where the roadway turns into County Road 400S. The SUV went down into a ditch full of water. Deputies said the front end of the SUV went into the water first and then the vehicle flipped onto its roof. It stopped facing west with its passenger side completely submerged.

A deputy and a Huntingburg Police Department officer jumped in the water in an unsuccessful attempt to free Ebert. He was subsequently extricated by members of the Huntingburg Volunteer Fire Department.

The passengers in the back seat, identified as 23-year-old Noah S. Fritchley of Jasper, 22-year-old Kelly J. Esser of Jasper, and 24-year-old Austin R. Green of Newburgh, exited and were checked by emergency medical technicians at the scene for hypothermia, police said.

 After it was determined Hakenjos had been drinking, police said, he was transported to Memorial Hospital for treatment of hypothermia. Once cleared, he was booked into the Dubois County Security Center at 3:50 a.m. He is currently being held without bond.

The accident remains under investigation. The Dubois County Coroner’s Office conducted an autopsy on Ebert that listed the preliminary cause of death, pending toxicology results, as drowning.

Damage to the SUV was estimated at $5,000.

An Indiana conservation officer, an Indiana State Police trooper, a Kars wrecker and Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services also assisted. Deputies also recognized the help provided to responders during the stressful situation by the Dubois County Dispatch Center.

Contact Bill Powell.

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