Columbia County Authorities Identify The Person Killed In Single Vehicle Crash

(Rio) Authorities have identified the person killed in a single vehicle crash in Lowville Township last Friday. Just after midnight, Columbia County deputies responded to the scene at Genrich Road west of Hagan Road. A Chevrolet Silverado pickup was traveling at a high rate of speed eastbound when it entered the south ditch, striking a mailbox before overcorrecting and reentering the south ditch at a high rate of speed. A passenger in the vehicle, 31-year-old Zachary Austin of Rio, was pronounced dead at the scene by the Medical Examiner’s Office. The driver, 29-year-old Mitchell Merkes, fled the scene before deputies arrived. Merkes was located around 2am hiding in a wooded area about one mile from the crash. He is being charged with Homicide by Intoxicated Use of a Motor Vehicle and Operating After Revocation, Causing Death. Authorities say the crash appears to have been caused by reckless driving and alcohol use.