A Zionsville man has been charged in the death of his friend a year and a half after he allegedly crashed his car and pretended his injured friend had been driving it.
Jack H. Kaplan, 22, Zionsville, was arrested on a warrant Wednesday after failing to turn himself in as agreed, said Ken Conley, Boone County Sheriff’s deputy and public information officer. He was booked into the Boone County Jail at about 7 p.m. and bailed out for $25,005 within two hours.
Kaplan is accused of driving while intoxicated and wrecking his car, fatally injuring his passenger, 21-year-old James Dupler of Zionsville, on Oct. 20, 2016.
Boone County Fatal Alcohol Crash Team (FACT) investigators believe Kaplan removed Dupler from the passenger seat and left him to lie dying on the ground next to the driver’s side after Kaplan crashed into a tree. Kaplan is accused of then sitting in the passenger side of the vehicle to await help.
Kaplan called his father, David Kaplan, instead of 911 and waited for his father to arrive at the crash and to call police, according to court records. Emergency responders said they found Kaplan in his father’s vehicle and Dupler on the ground near the driver’s side of the Explorer at County Road 300 South (also called 146th Street), just west of U.S. 421.
In all, Jack Kaplan was at the site nearly an hour before help arrived, police said. It took 26 minutes from the time he called David Kaplan to when David called 911. Investigators estimate David and Jack had about 20 minutes alone at the crash site before emergency responders arrived within seven minutes of his call, police said.
Kaplan told police the pair had been at an Indianapolis sports bar to watch a baseball game and had food, beer and a shot of alcohol, and then went to Marsh after that for snacks. Police concluded that Dupler bought bourbon at Marsh and both men had a swing before leaving the store grounds.
Kaplan told police he thought he was too drunk to drive and insisted that Dupler drive from the Marsh store.
Dupler was taken to St. Vincent Hospital Indianapolis, a trauma center. He died there, an estimated 2 ½ hours after the crash. The attending physician’s assessment said Dupler had several injuries, including a non-survivable traumatic head injury.
Jack’s father said he would drive him to St. Vincent, but police later found them at Indiana University Health North Hospital in Indianapolis. Jack was treated for an abrasion and small lacerations and released, according to court records.
Jack’s attending physician noted, “Interestingly, father declined EMS transport and brought patient to this facility, a non-trauma hospital, despite patient’s apparent loss of consciousness.”
The passenger side of the vehicle was the most severely damaged, according to Boone County Sheriff’s Cpt. Mike Beard’s report. The doctor who performed Dupler’s autopsy concluded that the right side of his head and scalp were injured and his injuries indicated that he was in the passenger compartment of the vehicle when it crashed.
The doctor reported that Dupler was rendered unconscious by the crash and remained unconscious until lifesaving attempts ceased. She said it was “highly unlikely” that based on Dupler’s injuries he would have been able to extricate himself from the vehicle.
FACT investigators collected DNA samples from Dupler, Jack Kaplan and the Ford Explorer. DNA linked Jack to the driver’s seat, driver’s headrest and steering wheel and excluded Dupler from those items. DNA also linked Jack and Dupler to the passenger side headliner.
The investigation took a long time because of waiting for DNA results and pouring over the facts, Conley said, adding, “It took a lot of legwork.”
Boone County Deputy Prosecutor Brandon Knight filed the following charges against Jack Kaplan on Wednesday: failure to remain at the scene of an accident, reckless homicide, failure to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in death, causing death when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, causing death when operating a vehicle with an ACE of .08 or more, obstruction of justice, operating a vehicle while intoxicated endangering a person, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, operating a vehicle with an ACE of .08 or more and public intoxication.
His initial hearing is scheduled for May 23.
“I want to extend my heartfelt sorrow to the Dupler family for their loss,” Sheriff Mike Nielsen said in a statement. “This is a sad and tragic event where no one wins in the end. But Mr. Kaplan will have his day in court, and hopefully the truth will prevail.”
Dupler’s family on Wednesday released the following statement: “Our family would like to sincerely thank the tireless efforts of the Boone County investigative team in finding the truth and honoring James’ memory. There is hope in Jesus, and a measure of peace in knowing the truth. We would also like to thank our family, friends, and Trader’s Point Christian Church for their love and continued prayers of support.”
Maria Flora is assistant editor at The Lebanon Reporter. Reach her by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.