A jury trial began Monday for a Bloomville man facing charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and aggravated vehicular assault in connection with a 2012 accident that killed a 19-year-old man and seriously injured an 11-year-old boy.
Bryan P. Waldock, 26, who was indicted on two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of aggravated vehicular assault, is accused of causing the death of Joshua Collins of Willard and seriously injuring David Tripp of Republic. Tripp had been a passenger in Collins' vehicle during the two-vehicle crash at US 224 and CR 23 early on the morning of Sept. 29 2012.
According to the State Highway Patrol, the accident occurred around 1:15 a.m. when Collins' vehicle, which was heading north, stopped at the stop sign on CR 23, started through the intersection and was struck on the driver's side by Waldock's vehicle, which had been eastbound on US 224.
PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE
Lt. Brett Gockstetter of the Milan post of State Highway Patrol holds up Bryan Waldock’s witness statement form during testimony Monday.
Collins and Tripp were taken by Life Flight to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, where Collins died.
Waldock, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, was transported to Mercy Tiffin Hospital.
Seneca County Assistant Prosecutor Brian Boos said Monday that Waldock faces two counts of each charge because he drove recklessly and impaired. Boos said Waldock, who was cited with operating a vehicle while impaired following the crash, had a blood alcohol level of .112 percent three hours after the crash. The legal limit is less than .08 percent for an adult in Ohio.
Boos also said Waldock was driving 73 mph to 80 mph when his Chevrolet Silverado crested a hill roughly 400 yards west of the intersection and struck Collins' Chevrolet S10. Boos said, because of Waldock's impairment, he was only able to hit the brakes a half-second before impact.
Boos said the speed limit on the roadway is 55 mph and the posted limit at the intersection is 35 mph because of the hill.
"Had he been traveling at the posted speed limit, this crash would have never occurred," Boos said.
Dean Henry, Waldock's attorney, said Monday the cause of the crash was Collins pulling his vehicle onto US 224.
"Only one of these two drivers had a stop sign, and the person who did not have a stop sign was Waldock," Henry said.
"That ultimately was the cause of this traffic crash," he said.
Henry also said the state's position was not based on facts or evidence, but rather on educated guesses and assumptions.
"There's a lot of math in this case and a lot of assumptions about what the highway patrol thinks happened," Henry said.
He said that at the accident scene, Waldock told a trooper he had his cruise control set at 60 mph when the crash occurred and that he saw Collins pull into the intersection. Henry said there's no evidence that being impaired slowed or stopped Waldock from braking.
Amy Tripp, who is Tripp's mother and the girlfriend of Collins' father, testified Monday that she was driving in front of Joshua Collins when the crash occurred. She said she and Collins were driving back from Mansfield, where Collins was in the process of moving.
After Amy Tripp turned left at the intersection, she was halfway up the hill when she saw headlights coming from the opposite direction, she said.
"He's going to hit him," she said of her thoughts after seeing the headlights. "Because they were so fast."
Amy Tripp said as she looked in her rearview mirror, she saw Collins attempting to turn left onto US 224 after stopping. She then saw the collision and witnessed Collins' truck split, she said.
She said she pulled over, called 911 and ran to the scene.
Amy Tripp said she stayed with Collins, David and another passenger in Collins' vehicle, Johni Hamons, 15, of Republic, who later was transported to Mercy Willard Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, until help arrived.
She said Waldock also stayed at the vehicle with its occupants. She said he told her he was sorry and she hugged him and thanked him for helping.
Lt. Brett Gockstetter of the State Highway Patrol also testified Monday, describing the accident scene upon his arrival.
Gockstetter said that when he arrived, a first responder told him Waldock was acting aggressively and throwing car parts into the roadway. Waldock was calm when Gockstetter met him, he said, but Waldock's eyes were red and glassy and he had a strong odor of alcohol. Waldock also was emotional, Gockstetter said.
A dash cam video from Gockstetter's cruiser was shown Monday and Gockstetter read aloud Waldock's witness statement. In the statement, Waldock said he was coming over the hill when he saw a Chevrolet S10 pull out. He then hit his brakes and steered to the right, the statement said, but it didn't help.
In his statement, Waldock also said he had consumed four to five drinks earlier at dinner over a span of four hours.
Waldock's trial is scheduled to continue all week in Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judge Steve Shuff's courtroom.
If convicted, Waldock faces up to 19 1/2 years in prison and a fine of up to $40,000, according to his indictment.