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Published: Wednesday, 11/1/2006

Driver guilty in Toledo crash that left 2 dead

A Toledo man who was speeding and driving recklessly when he crashed his car on Summit Street, killing two passengers, was convicted yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Michael Ibanez, 19, entered no-contest pleas to two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide for the deaths of his friends, Matthew Davis and Thomas Herman, who were thrown from the defendant's car in the April 7 accident.

Mr. Herman, 19, of 325 Adrian St., was pronounced dead at the scene; Mr. Davis of 317 Albany St. died April 21 - his 19th birthday - in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

Brian Schwartz of Sylvania Township and Lee A. Pasker of New York Avenue, who also were passengers, survived.

"It is a very sad situation. Everyone in the car was friends," said Louis Kountouris, an assistant county prosecutor, said after the hearing before Judge James Bates.

Mr. Kountouris said the plea agreement was made with the approval of the victims' families.

Larnene Davis and Angela Herman, the victims' mothers, attended the hearing with Ibanez and his family.

A reconstruction of the accident revealed to police that Ibanez, of 4818 Imperial Drive, was driving at least 68 mph on wet pavement when his northbound car went airborne over the railroad tracks near Erie Street.

The 1990 Volvo went out of control into the east side of the road, hit a wooden utility pole, and went airborne again by going up a guy wire of another pole. The two victims were thrown from the vehicle when the pole ripped off the rear passenger door.

Mr. Kountouris said alcohol and drugs were not a factor. A witness estimated the car's speed at nearly 100 mph, and a passenger believed it could have been 80 mph.

Judge Bates, who accepted the pleas and found Ibanez guilty, scheduled sentencing for Dec. 5. He faces a prison sentence of one to five years for each offense.

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