Jacob Erpelding, 21, allegedly drove his vehicle while intoxicated to turn some doughnuts and jump hills on the grounds of the Platte City Cemetery, according to court documents. After locating him at his nearby residence, officers with the Platte City Police Department made an arrest, and Platte County prosecutor Eric Zahnd charged him with misdemeanor DWI and a Class D felony for first-degree property damage he caused to a headstone.
At about 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 15, Platte City police received a call regarding and careless and imprudent driver traveling through the cemetery at a high rate of speed. The witness said he saw a white Mercury Cougar leave the scene and drive to 312 Second St., where the suspect entered a top-floor apartment.
Officers ran a record check on a matching vehicle in that parking lot and traced it to Erpelding’s apartment. They noticed the front tire on the vehicle was flat, and the body contained a mixture of mud and wet grass clippings.
When Erpelding answered the door at the residence, he admitted to driving the vehicle earlier in the night through the cemetery. Erpelding agreed to field sobriety tests, which he failed, and at one point, he told officers he could not pass the test and, “I don’t have the money for this (expletive).”
A chemical test of Erpelding's breath revealed a blood alcohol level of .153.
When questioned about his actions that day, Erpelding said he spent the afternoon at a bar on Main Street watching Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, which the Royals won 2-1 to reach the World Series for the first time since 1985. He stayed there for about two hours after the game ended, but he didn’t go home when he left.
Instead, Erpelding drove to the cemetery.
On the grounds, officers found tire tracks, some in tight circles indicative of the doughnuts and others in a weaving pattern in and out of the headstones. They noted that in some spots it was evident the vehicle left the ground, and at one location, they found a headstone struck and knocked from its concrete base.
The damages were found to be more than $750, which prompted the felony charge.
Erpelding posted $7,500 bond and was released on the conditions he stay off the cemetery premises and no driving unless properly insured and licensed. He faces up to 4 ½ years in prison if convicted on both charges.