PORT CLINTON - Brian J. Woody's "reckless" behavior caused a chain-reaction crash that killed six people last year on State Rt. 2, but the East Toledo man deserves some credit for taking responsibility for his actions, an Ottawa County assistant prosecutor said yesterday.
Woody, 29, of 1310 Camden St., pleaded no contest Thursday in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court to six counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count of aggravated vehicular assault for the June 21 collision.
"He decided to take responsibility for the deaths of those six people," said Lorrain Croy, who helped negotiate a plea agreement that resulted in Woody's conviction.
"What he did was irresponsible and reckless, and now the families of those people are going to suffer, and that's a tragedy. But it is unusual for a defendant to take responsibility for his actions, and I'm glad he did that."
Killed in the crash were Darryl K. Scott, 44, of Detroit; his girlfriend, Shannon Scott, 24, of Romulus, Mich., and his niece, Ariel Scott, 12, of Detroit. Sisters Alexis Howard, 9, and Alecia Howard, 7, of Eastpointe, Mich., both daughters of Mr. Scott, and Shannon Scott's niece, Amber Channey, 6, of Ypsilanti, Mich., also were killed.
Mr. Scott's daughter, Brandi Scott, 13, of Sterling Heights, Mich., survived. Her mother has filed a personal injury lawsuit on her daughter's behalf in Lucas County Common Pleas Court against Woody.
Also named in the suit is the driver of a tractor trailer involved in the crash and the trucker's employer.
The victims were headed toward Detroit in a sport utility vehicle after a day at the Cedar Point amusement park when the accident occurred shortly before midnight. The Ohio Highway Patrol said Woody's westbound Chevrolet Blazer swerved left of center and hit the tractor-trailer's left front corner.
Witnesses said the impact caused the semi to spin and clip a Toyota Corolla in the left rear before smashing head-on into a Cadillac Escalade that was carrying the victims.
Woody was indicted in October on 12 counts of aggravated vehicular homicide. Six of those counts alleged that he was driving under the influence and the other six counts alleged he was driving recklessly.
He also was indicted on two counts of aggravated vehicular assault and one count of attempting to leave the scene of an accident.
Ms. Croy said prosecutors made the plea deal with Woody because of concern that the low levels of alcohol and narcotics found in his system after the crash would not be enough to persuade a jury that he was impaired and should be convicted on all counts.
Authorities said Woody had a blood-alcohol content of 0.025 percent, based on blood drawn 2 1/2 hours after the accident. The legal driving limit in Ohio is 0.08 percent. There also was evidence of marijuana and Valium, according to the prosecutor's office.
"He did have some slight indication in his blood that he did have a little bit of marijuana and a little bit of alcohol," Ms. Croy said. "However, it was not an amount that would sustain impairment."
Adrian Cimerman, Woody's attorney, said his client agreed to the plea deal in part because of the evidence against him that was presented by the prosecution during discovery proceedings.
He said Woody is still coming to terms with the crash and his involvement in it.
"I think he's still in shock over the whole thing," Mr. Cimerman said. "It's crazy how your life can change in a split second."
Woody is to be sentenced March 4 by Judge Paul Moon. If given maximum, consecutive sentences on all counts, he could receive 31 1/2 years in prison. Mr. Cimerman argues that under U.S. Supreme Court rulings, his client can be given no more than one-year, concurrent terms for the aggravated vehicular homicide convictions.
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