Driver in fatal Thanksgiving crash to undergo competency evaluation

Defendant enters insanity plea to 4 vehicle homicide counts

Andrew D. Gans
Andrew D. Gans

FREMONT — The speeding Ohio Turnpike driver who allegedly caused a Thanksgiving crash that killed a Toledo couple will be evaluated to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

Andrew Gans, 24, of Kent, Ohio pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to four counts of aggravated vehicular homicide when he was arraigned Thursday in Sandusky County Common Pleas Court.

He is charged with causing the Nov. 28 turnpike crash in Rice Township that killed Wilbur and Margaret McCoy of Toledo.

Authorities said his vehicle was speeding at more than 125 mph when it struck the McCoys’ minivan, and Mr. Gans told police he had been drinking before the crash.

The court will first determine if Mr. Gans is competent to stand trial after his attorney, Terrence Rudes of Port Clinton, filed a suggestion of incompetency. Mr. Rudes expects an evaluation to be completed within 30 days.

Mr. Gans was a patient Thursday at the Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital in Toledo.

“When they are presently being held in a psychiatric unit, that’s a hint, and he has a history of psychiatric problems going back to his younger years, when he had a couple of brain surgeries to remove a cyst or a tumor, which may be part of what’s going on,” Mr. Rudes said.

Mr. Rudes said he has not yet obtained his client’s medical records but pieced together some of his history, including surgery the defendant underwent in his early teens, based on third-party accounts. Mr. Gans’ adoptive mother and father died in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

His client had been hospitalized for psychiatric care more than once prior to the fatal crash and had been prescribed medication. Mr. Rudes said he did not know if Mr. Gans was taking it.

A hearing date to determine competency has not yet been set, Mr. Rudes said. If a judge finds the accused not competent to stand trial, the state has a year to restore him to competency, he said.

“If he’s competent, then we go on to whether he’s not guilty for reason of insanity,” said Sandusky County Prosecutor Thomas Stierwalt, who declined to comment on the plea, saying he would “wait to see what develops.”

For each of the two victims, Mr. Gans faces two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, including counts for recklessness and for operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Mr. Gans’ $1 million bond, set in a lower court, was continued at the arraignment Thursday.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: or 419-724-6056, or on Twitter @vanmccray.