Man accused of lying about rescuing kids from house fire appears in court

The man accused of lying to Columbus fire investigators about saving three children from a North Linden Drive house fire last week appeared today in Recorder’s Court.

Eric Lane Hardy, 21, faces a misdemeanor count of obstruction of an officer. He appeared before Senior Judge Michael Cielinski this morning and pleaded guilty.

The case wasn’t resolved, however, and Cielinski issued Hardy a $500 bond and bound the accusation over to State Court.

The charge stems from the rescue of three children, ages 3, 4 and 6, from their home late Tuesday after their mother allegedly set it ablaze. Authorities say Latoya Bell, 27, set the house on fire and then fled. Bell’s boyfriend, 32-year-old Wathis Dixon, got the children to safety. Dixon, who had an outstanding arrest warrant against him, then told Hardy, his neighbor, to claim responsibility for saving the children.

Hardy then told fire investigators he saved the children, authorities said.

“A lot of confusion was created by making those statements,” Fire Marshal Ricky Shores said Friday.

Bell and Dixon appeared last week in Recorder’s Court and pleaded not guilty to their charges.