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Driver charged in deadly chase

The motorist who allegedly fled from a Marengo police officer that resulted in a crash that killed his passenger faces several charges.
Robert Banet, 44, of Leavenworth was initially charged with three felonies ‘ Class B resisting law enforcement, Class C reckless homicide and Class D operating a vehicle while privileges are suspended as an habitual traffic violator ‘ on Aug. 20. Then, on Sept. 23, the Crawford County Prosecutor’s Office filed additional charges: Class C felony causing the death of another person when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, Class C felony causing the death of another person when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, having an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least 0.08 gram of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 210 liters of breath, Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated and Class C misdemeanor operating a vehicle with blood-alcohol content of at least 0.08 but less than 0.15.
Banet was driving a 1991 GMC pick-up truck with defective taillights on Aug. 16 when he allegedly began traveling at a high rate of speed after Marengo Marshal James Harrington activated the overhead emergency lights on his patrol car.
According to the affidavit for probable cause, Harrington followed the vehicle on Old Water Street toward its intersection with Meridian Street and Valeene Road, where Banet failed to stop at the stop sign and turned north onto Meridian Street/Valeene Road. The narrow and curvy road is well-traveled with a 40-mph speed limit prior to leaving the town limits.
Harrington said he turned on his vehicle’s siren and notified Crawford County Dispatch that he was in pursuit of Banet’s vehicle.
‘As I was attempting to stop said vehicle,’ he said, ‘I noticed that I was traveling approximately 90 miles per hour, and I estimated that said vehicle was about 200 feet in front of me.
‘I then briefly lost sight of said vehicle prior to me cresting a hill about one mile north of the Marengo town limits, and, after cresting said hill, I noticed that the vehicle had collided with a tree.’
Banet’s passenger, Jeannine Marie Farrell, 56, of Mauckport was pronounced dead at the scene by the Crawford County Coroner’s Office. Harrington, in the affadavit, said Farrell was wearing a seat belt.
Harrington also noted that, upon Banet being removed from the vehicle, he smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Banet’s breath.
Banet was airlifted to University Hospital in Louisville for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
According to the affidavit, Banet’s operator’s license previously had been indefinitely suspended.
Banet was arrested on Aug. 27 and taken to the Crawford County Jail.
Harrington, who had requested a two-week leave of absence, is back on duty.