As the 20-year-old man accused of dropping the plate appeared in court yesterday, the family of Dorothy Minggia tried to come to terms with her tragic death.
"I can't sleep at night because I lost my mom," Jennifer Minggia said through tears at a court hearing for Jamie Pacheco of 2018 Price St., who is accused of dropping the steel plate used to anchor ties onto her car from 20 feet overhead.
Ms. Minggia's sister, Kendra Wyatt, said the sudden loss of Ms. Minggia, who was working at the Lutheran Home on Wheeling St., was a shock.
"I just want to see justice done," Ms. Wyatt said. "I want them to feel the same thing that I'm feeling now. She's gone, and I can't get her back."
Mr. Pacheco, 20, said nothing while Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Francis X. Gorman set bond at $500,000 on his murder charge.
Ms. Minggia was driving at 11:12 p.m. when the steel plate ripped through her windshield while on South Ravine Parkway, breaking her neck. A Lucas County coroner said she died of blunt-force trauma in the neck and the chest.
Michael Manning, 21, of 2018 Price and a 14-year-old runaway, who police believe were with Mr. Pacheco when the incident happened, also were in court yesterday. Judge Gorman set $10,000 bond on Mr. Manning for felony vandalism, and he was released on bail last night.
Mr. Pacheco and Mr. Manning are scheduled to return to municipal court Friday. Mr. Pacheco remained in the Lucas County jail last night.
In Lucas County Juvenile Court, Magistrate John Yerman ordered detention of the 14-year-old, who is charged with delinquency in connection with vandalism. Jerome Campbell, the youth's foster parent, said he ran away Sept. 13 and had not been seen until he was arrested.
Ms. Minggia's family fought back tears as Mr. Pacheco and Mr. Manning appeared in front of Judge Gorman. While leaving the courtroom, Mr. Manning quickly turned back to the family and said, "I'm sorry."
Seborne Harris, Ms. Minggia's brother who flew in from Arizona to attend the hearing, said the city of Toledo should have played a role in making the overpass safer, either with a fence or by some other means.
Mary Chris Skeldon, spokesman for Mayor Ford, said the overpass is owned by Norfolk Southern and it's the railroad's responsibility, but police have beefed up patrols in the area. She said the bridge does not have a walkway, and it is criminal trespassing to be on the bridge.
Rudy Husband, a spokesman for Norfolk Southern, said the mayor's letter is typically how the railroad begins the process of considering fences for its bridges.
"We consider that to be a highway safety issue, and local officials are in a better position to identify which locations have safety issues and suggest ways to correct them," Mr. Husband said. "We have thousands of bridges on our network, and we can't afford to put up and maintain fences on every one of them, so we need the local officials to tell us what needs to be done and who's going to pay for it."
Across the country, it is not a common practice for railroad bridges to have fences designed to prevent people from tossing objects from them.
"There aren't supposed to be pedestrians on there in the first place," said Tom White, a spokesman for the Association of American Railroads. "They're putting their own lives in danger being there, because a train would not be able to stop in time to avoid hitting them. It's definitely trespassing and violating the law when they're on the trestle to begin with."
Joe Rutherford, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, District 2, said the agency is considering placing a "vandal protection fence" on the CSX railroad line crossing Interstate 280 near Navarre Avenue in East Toledo.
On Oct. 5, a rock crashed through the window of a truck driven by a Newport, Mich., man on I-280. Authorities believe the rock might have been thrown from that bridge. The driver and another man chased the suspects, who turned out to be juveniles. Authorities said they don't believe that incident and the one involving Ms. Minggia are related.
Blade staff writer David Patch contributed to this story.
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