Archive for Thursday, September 17, 1998


September 17, 1998


An Ottawa man suspected in a fatal hit-and-run over the weekend will face a preliminary hearing next month.

Wednesday morning, shortly before family and friends of Steffen Surber gathered at Highland Cemetery to lay the 5-year-old Ottawa boy to rest, an Ottawa man charged in his death appeared in Franklin County District Court.

Charles Fleming, 21, suspected in the weekend hit-and-run, heard the four criminal charges against him during the first court appearance. The hit-and-run occurred just outside Ottawa.

Prosecutors on Tuesday charged Fleming with involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence, reckless aggravated battery, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to report an accident. Fleming does not have to formally enter a plea unless he is bound over for trial on the charges at the preliminary hearing next month.

Franklin County District Magistrate Edwin R. Smith set bail at $10,000 and scheduled a preliminary hearing for 9 a.m. Oct. 16. Fleming waived his right to have a preliminary hearing within 10 days of the first court appearance.

After his court appearance, Fleming posted bond and was released from the Franklin County Adult Detention Center.

The fatal accident occurred shortly before midnight Saturday on an unlit rural bridge east of Ottawa that spans the Marais Des Cygnes River. A group of friends had gathered there to do some rappelling. Police say Fleming had been drinking that night at a party, had driven into town with a friend to buy cigarettes and was on his way back to the party.

According to Franklin County Sheriff's reports, Fleming's 1986 Honda CRX hit a 1998 Ford Escort parked at the edge of the bridge, pinning Steffen. The Escort was hit with enough force to deploy the airbags.

Fleming's car was later found in the field where the party was held. Friends took him to Ransom Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and released Monday morning. Sheriff's deputies took him into custody an hour later.

Blood-alcohol test results are expected back from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation in the next two weeks.

-- Matt Gowen's phone message number is 832-7222. His e-mail address is

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