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Published: 2/10/2010

Ottawa County driver asks lifetime ban after fatality be ended

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

PORT CLINTON - On April 3, 1993, Terri Camp was drunk when she crossed the centerline on State Rt. 51 near Genoa and struck Jane Miller's car head on, killing Ms. Miller's 14-year-old son, Ronald G. Miller.

Camp, who at 28 already had been arrested three times for drunken driving, subsequently pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, and Judge Paul Moon of Ottawa County Common Pleas Court sentenced her to 4 to 10 years in prison. The judge also permanently revoked her driving privileges.

Now, she would like to drive again.

Camp, 45, of Woodville, filed a motion last week in Common Pleas Court asking that her driving privileges be restored - a request that the victim's family adamantly opposes.

"They feel strongly that the gravity of the offense and the fact that as a part of her sentence she received a lifetime license suspension, that the order should stand," said Christy Cole, a special prosecutor appointed to the case.

In her motion to the court, Camp points out that she served 10 years of her 4-10 year prison sentence, that she paid her court costs in full, became a certified optician, and now is employed by an optometrist in Woodville. She says she has participated in a 12-step recovery program since her release from prison more than five years ago and "has enjoyed continuous sobriety since her incarceration."

Her attorney, William Hayes of Bowling Green, said Camp not only attends as many as three 12-step meetings every week but also speaks to Alcoholics Anonymous groups about her experience.

"She's done absolutely everything required of her under the law. She can show proof she's had no traffic violations for 15 years and above that, she can show she's had no alcohol for 17 years," Mr. Hayes said. "She's gone out and rehabilitated herself. She's gotten a good job. She's been law-abiding. … What more can you ask of a person to get their license back?"

Ohio law allows persons whose driver's license has been revoked for life to file a motion with the sentencing court for modification or termination of the suspension after at least 15 years have passed and the person has had no other convictions, among other requirements.

Judge Bruce Winters of Ottawa County Common Pleas Court has set a hearing on Camp's motion for 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 26.

Ms. Cole said the victim's family is adamant that Camp's license suspension continue for life, and she will oppose the motion.

"They feel she should not have that opportunity to be back on the road," Ms. Cole said, noting that "there is no crystal ball" to indicate whether someone could drink again.

Lorin Zaner, a Toledo attorney who represented the Miller family in a 1994 civil action against Camp, said he too plans to file a brief in opposition to her motion.

"We absolutely, positively oppose any driving privileges," Mr. Zaner said.

"They will never get over the loss of their son, and they're not willing to let her drive," he said.

Mrs. Miller was northbound on State Rt. 51 about two miles southeast of Genoa about 12:45 a.m. April 3, 1993, when Camp's southbound car drove left of center and struck the Miller vehicle. Mrs. Miller of Oregon was injured along with two other young passengers; her son, Ronald, was flown to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

In her motion to the court, Camp included letters of support from her employer and pastor as well as a petition with 100 signatures of people who support some type of reinstatement of her driving privileges. Among those who signed the petition were Woodville Police Chief Roy Whitehead, Woodville Mayor Rich Harman, and other local public officials.

Through Mr. Hayes, Camp declined to comment. The Millers were out of town and could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Hayes said prison was a life-changing experience for Camp, who tells her story to alcoholics to help them and to assist in her own recovery.

"She carries the message to the alcoholic very well," he said. "Somebody died here, and she spent 10 years in prison, and it was the prison system that got her straightened out along with their tying her into an appropriate 12-step program. Quite candidly, the prison system saved her life."

Mr. Hayes said his client is committed to the support group meetings that have kept her away from alcohol, and he believes "if she continues to do these things, the risks of her drinking and driving are insignificant."

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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