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Published: Tuesday, 11/14/2006

Man gets prison in bicyclist's death

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Casey Ottinger of Monclova Township leaves court after he was sentenced in the death of a teacher. Roy Williamson, center, David Larabee's partner, is consoled by sister-in-law Jo Williamson as his sister, Ruth Curl, looks on. Casey Ottinger of Monclova Township leaves court after he was sentenced in the death of a teacher. Roy Williamson, center, David Larabee's partner, is consoled by sister-in-law Jo Williamson as his sister, Ruth Curl, looks on.
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A Monclova Township man who struck and killed bicyclist David Larabee after running a stop sign at a western Lucas County intersection was sentenced yesterday to 15 months in prison.

Casey Ottinger, 28, was handcuffed and taken to the county jail as his family and the relatives and friends of Mr. Larabee wept in the Common Pleas courtroom of Judge Charles Doneghy.

Mr. Larabee, 41, a much-loved and award-winning Ottawa Hills High School teacher, was killed Sept. 2, 2005, when Ottinger drove his van through a stop sign on Crissey Road in Springfield Township.

The defendant skidded through the intersection and collided with Mr. Larabee, who was riding west on Dorr Street. Wearing a helmet and bright multicolored jersey, the victim was headed home from the high school, a trip he took almost daily.

Judge Doneghy said the defendant was talking to a passenger and passed through signs that warned of the intersection ahead.

"It is very apparent this wasn't a case of coming up on a stop sign,'' the judge said. "There was a clearly marked area."

At the time of the accident, Ottinger was driving with a suspended operator's license. Judge Doneghy said the defendant's history of traffic offenses and the circumstances of the accident required a prison sentence.

The 15-month sentence was 3 months shy of the maximum punishment. Judge Doneghy suspended Ottinger's license for three years.

Ottinger was indicted on aggravated vehicular homicide, but a jury acquitted him of that offense and found him guilty Sept. 27 of the lesser offense of vehicular homicide.

Roy Williamson, the life partner of Mr. Larabee, lashed out at Ottinger for killing his companion of 18 years.

A retired teacher himself, Mr. Williamson said Mr. Larabee loved life and lived it passionately and with zeal.

"Dave would be the first to forgive [Ottinger] if he does do something constructive and honest. He owes his family for the shame and disgrace he has brought to them," Mr. Williamson said.

Ottinger of 8481 Maumee-Western Rd. was nearly in tears as he spoke to the victim's family in court.

"I am very sorry for his death. I have taken a vow I will do everything in my power to have this make me a better person. I know that he was a great man. He did a lot of good things for a lot of people," Ottinger said.

Mr. Larabee, a graduate of Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo, received recognition from the Ohio General Assembly as one of the state's best math and science teachers.

He also was a runner-up for the Presidential Award, which recognizes math and science teachers in the state.

Among the spectators in the courtroom was Brian Fink, a 1996 Ottawa Hills graduate who was a geometry and physics student of Mr. Larabee.

Mr. Fink, now an assistant professor at UT's college of health and human services, said Mr. Larabee was both a friend and mentor who showed kindness and was caring of students every day in the classroom.

"He has provided me with the motivation to keep his spirit and life alive, and I am going to keep it going by teaching the students in the same way that he taught me," Mr. Fink said.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 419-213-2134.



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