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Published: Tuesday, 1/8/2013

Man gets 4 years for purposely causing crash

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN -- A Toledo man who intentionally caused a car to go into a water-filled ditch, injuring and trapping four people inside, was sentenced Monday to four years in prison.

Michael Garczynski, 35, pleaded guilty in November before Wood County Common Pleas Judge Reeve Kelsey to two counts of felonious assault and one count of endangering children in connection with the Nov. 17, 2011 incident in Perrysburg Township.

Judge Kelsey dismissed two additional counts of felonious assault and a second count of endangering children as part of a plea agreement, which a prosecutor said was in part intended for the benefit of the two children who were in the car.

“It was their mother’s belief that to put the children through this would be re-living that same traumatic event of being left in a car in a ditch filled with water,” Gwen Howe-Gebers, chief assistant Wood County prosecutor, told the court. "...They have come a long way with their counseling. They have come a long way with being able to get in the car again and drive by that same location and not say, 'Mommy, there's the water tower where our accident happened.'"

Garczynski was a passenger in a car driven by Andrea MacRitchie of Toledo when the two quarreled and he reached over and grabbed the steering wheel, causing the car to go into a ditch along State Rt. 199. Garczynski got out of the car but did not assist Ms. MacRitchie, another passenger Jodi Carter, or Ms. Carter's two young children who were trapped inside.

His attorney, Jeff Simpson, said his client was intoxicated at the time, as he was when he committed two prior felony offenses.

Garczynski told the court he has a problem with alcohol that he never recognized or addressed. He said he took the plea deal because of his record of felony convictions, but insisted he didn’t do what he was accused of.

“I regret that the truth on my behalf didn’t come out. The main thing is, in my heart and soul, is for the children and the girls in this case,” he said. “I am sorry they got hurt. I am sorry this accident happened, but I truly, truly in my heart of hearts did not do this, your honor.”

Ms. Howe-Gebers, who recommended the four-year prison sentence, countered that the state was prepared to prove Garczynski’s guilt.

“To have him say he didn’t do anything, the facts would have shown otherwise based upon not only the victims in the case but bystanders who were part of the rescue process to which the defendant did not participate in,” she said.

The adult victims were in the courtroom but did not make statements in court.

Judge Kelsey cited Garczynski’s prior criminal record and the injuries to the victims, among other factors, in imposing the four-year term.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.



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