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Published: Tuesday, 5/9/2006

Putnam County man given 4-year term in '04 crash

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - A Putnam County man who was intoxicated when he ran a stop sign at U.S. 6 and struck a van, killing two people, was sent to prison yesterday for four years.

Lucas Horstman, 22, of Ottawa pleaded no contest in March to two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of aggravated vehicular assault stemming from the Oct. 17, 2004, crash that killed Lawrence Campbell. 57, of Sandusky and Douglas Fishbaugh, 26, of Huntington, Ind. Two other passengers in Mr. Campbell's vehicle, Trenda Dingus, 27, and her daughter, Hanna Jones, 4, were badly injured.

Judge Reeve Kelsey of Wood County Common Pleas Court said that once Horstman is released from prison, he is to be on community control for five years, during which time he must perform 300 hours of community service, get evaluated and treated for substance abuse and anger management, and pay $4,285 in restitution.

Judge Kelsey also suspended Horstman's driver's license for 10 years.

Before he was sentenced, Horstman said he was "extremely sorry" for the incident. "There's a debt that I'll never be able to repay," he said. "I can only try and turn my life around."

Horstman was northbound on Pemberville Road about 4 a.m. when he ran the stop sign and collided with Mr. Campbell's eastbound van. Horstman and his passenger, Cruz Castillo, 18, of Ottawa were thrown from the vehicle and investigators were initially unsure who was driving.

One of the passengers injured in the crash and her mother told the court they did not want to see Horstman go to prison.

"I know neither Larry or Doug would want to see this boy go to jail," said Marie Dingus, who said she was the mother of Trenda Dingus, the grandmother of Hanna Jones, and fiance of Lawrence "Larry" Campbell. "There was another party involved in this and [Horstman] has taken responsibility. I'm begging you judge, I don't want to see him go to jail. He has to live with this for the rest of his life."

Trenda Dingus, who was engaged to Douglas Fishbaugh, said much the same.

"I don't want to see him rot in prison. What's prison going to do?" she asked.

Assistant Wood County Prosecutor Gwen Howe-Gebers said Horstman had to be punished. "There has to be some message sent that you cannot drink and drive," she said.

She said Horstman had tested positive for marijuana use twice while the probation department was preparing his presentence investigation. She said he became so angry when questioned about it that he had to leave the interview.

While the prosecution and defense had disagreed over who was behind the wheel when the crash occurred, Ms. Howe-Gebers said Horstman was culpable whether he was driving or whether he allowed his drunken friend to drive.

Bill Kluge, attorney for Horstman, said an accident reconstructionist he hired felt certain Horstman was not driving, but his client agreed to plead no contest because he decided to take responsibility for his actions. "Lucas has been a troubled young man for many years, including bouts of depression, diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and his inability to stay with treatment," Mr. Kluge said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan

at jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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