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Published: Friday, 11/14/2008

Driver indicted in fatal Anthony Wayne Trail crash

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The driver accused of causing a fatal crash on the Anthony Wayne Trail that killed two young boys was indicted yesterday by a Lucas County grand jury on two misdemeanor counts.

Theresa Holman, 56, of 5767 Cresthaven Lane was charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter, both second-degree misdemeanors. If convicted, she faces up to six months in jail.

Authorities said Ms. Holman was inbound on the Trail, just north of the Toledo Zoo, about 8:30 a.m. Oct. 20 when she lost control of her vehicle. Witnesses said she crossed the median and entered outbound lanes, causing a chain-reaction crash.

Killed in the crash were Zyeri White, 5, and his uncle, Devine Chatman, 11, who were both students at Harvard Elementary School in South Toledo.

Yolanda Chatman, Zyeri's grandmother and Devine's mother, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Six vehicles were involved in the crash. Zyeri and Devine were passengers in a car that was struck by Ms. Holman's vehicle, sending the boys' car airborne, eventually landing on its roof. The boys were taken to Toledo Hospital, where they later were pronounced dead.

Quaja Butler, 6, also was a passenger in the car driven by her mother, Quavonne Porter, 25, of 819 Lincoln Ave. Ms. Porter remains in Toledo Hospital.

According to John Weglian, chief of the criminal special units division of the Lucas County prosecutor's office, vehicular manslaughter is charged when a driver causes the death of another while committing an ordinary traffic offense. In this case, Ms. Holman was charged with failure to control her vehicle, he said.

"There is no indication whatsoever that she was speeding. There is no indication that there was any drugs or alcohol involved," he said.

"There is no indication of anything other than the fact that she lost control of the vehicle when she attempted to move from the left-hand lane to the center lane, saw a car in that lane, and came back to the left lane and somehow lost control."

According to the Toledo police accident report, Ms. Holman was inbound on the Trail when she tried to change lanes. She was beginning to merge into the center lane and another car was trying to switch lanes.

In swerving to avoid hitting that car, Ms. Holman overcorrected, lost control, and went across the median into the outbound lanes, police said.

Ms. Holman's car struck Ms. Porter's vehicle, sending it airborne onto the hood of a pickup driven by Clyde Cole, 53.

The pickup then struck another car, forcing that car into a utility pole.

The Porter vehicle then bounced off the truck and landed on its roof.

A fifth vehicle struck Ms. Holman's car and drove off the west side of the road. Another vehicle trying to avoid the crash also drove off the west side of the road, police said.

The grand jury chose not to indict Ms. Holman on aggravated vehicular homicide charges and vehicular homicide charges, both felonies.

Mr. Weglian said that drunken driving, recklessness, or negligence would have to be involved for indictment on the felony charges.

"This is a serious case. The injuries in this case were very serious. We felt it was incumbent on us to have a grand jury look at this matter and make a decision based on evaluating the evidence," he said as to why the felonies were presented to the grand jury. "We felt that it was appropriate to not go by our own judgment but to submit it to the grand jury and allow them to make the appropriate decision."

The prosecutor's office has requested that the case be sent back to Toledo Municipal Court.

Staff writer Laren Weber contributed to this report.

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblake.com

or 419-213-2134.



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