A man accused of driving drunk and causing the death of 59-year-old Mechanicsburg resident Charles Roger Rutan Jr. pleaded guilty this month to two of four indictments against him.
Jeffrey Russell Burnette, a 57-year-old man from Huber Heights currently lodged in the Tri-County Jail, was involved in a serious crash on September 16 at 6:40 p.m. that killed Rutan.
Burnette pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse or a combination of them. He is scheduled to be sentenced in Champaign County Common Pleas Court at 9 a.m. on December 9.
Burnette had been indicted in October by a Champaign County grand jury on two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse or a combination of them.
According to the state patrol, Burnette’s pick-up truck was driving north on state Route 4 when it lost control going over railroad tracks and struck a car in a gas station parking lot. The driver of the car in the parking lot, Rutan, died at the scene. Rutan was backing out of a parking space at “Winners 1 Stop” when his car was struck.
Burnette was not injured in the crash. Burnette was found to be under the influence of alcohol. He was charged with operating a vehicle impaired and aggravated vehicular homicide.
Another parked vehicle and the awning of the gas station were also damaged in the crash.
Rutan was a 1980 graduate of Mechanicsburg High School. He was employed for over 20 years with Mechanicsburg Schools. Rutan was a longtime member of Mechanicsburg Lodge #113 F. & A. M. He is survived by his wife and family members.