The 24-year-old Fairview Park man, accused of briefly leading police on a high-speed chase before driving a 2004 Porsche off of a cliff, was indicted this week by a Cuyahoga County grand jury on a charge of aggravated vehicular assault.
Thomas C. Smith also faces a charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, after the July 10 crash that left his 47-year-old passenger, Matthew Vaneck, in critical condition.
Police officials have said that Smith was driving at a high rate of speed when the 2004 Porsche Carrera came to the end of the Detroit Avenue extension and launched over a curb, landing more than 100 feet below in the Cleveland Metroparks.
The car belonged to Vaneck, who was ejected from the vehicle during the crash.
Police detectives interviewed Vaneck, but he “doesn’t really remember what happened,” said Capt. Ed Hassing of the Lakewood Police Department.
“He was pretty well banged up,” Hassing added.
Smith, who was briefly hospitalized, was scheduled to appear in Lakewood Municipal Court on a drunken driving charge, but the case was bound over to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court along with the vehicular assault charge.
“We believe he had been drinking,” Hassing said. “There were indications on the scene that he’d been drinking.
The crash took place in the early morning of July 10, after Smith allegedly fled from a traffic stop for expired plates. When the car got a lead on police, the chased was called off.
After the car launched from the parking lot at the Commodore Club Apartments, it sliced through trees on its way down, clearing Metro Parks Drive and landed in an embankment west of the street.
“They’re both lucky they’re alive,” Hassing said.