Driver in deadly hit-and-run appears in court

The driver from a deadly hit-and-run accident made his initial court appearance Tuesday in St. Joseph County Court.

Jeremy Bontrager, 24, along with his legal counsel, stood before the judge and accepted the preliminary plea of "not guilty."

Bontrager is charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in death, a Class-C felony. A michiana man, Ronald Rodgers, 56, was found dead in the right-hand lane of SR 933 north late Friday night.

NewsCenter 16 confirmed Bontrager was a volunteer paramedic in Osolo Twp., the director of emergency services declined to comment further about the accident.

Tuesday afternoon, the St. Joseph County judge asked Bontrager if he had any military experience. Bontrager responded he had served in the U.S. Army.

NewsCenter 16 first met Bontrager in 2009 when he and his fiance won a contest for a free wedding. At the time Bontrager was about to be deployed overseas.

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