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Published: Thursday, 4/17/2014

Victim upset with drunken driver’s sentence

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mike Lemon had gone out to get ice cream for his children the evening of Dec. 7 when a drunken driver slammed into his car head-on, nearly killing him.

The driver of the speeding pickup truck, Eric Peterson, 41, of 4649 Westway St., was traveling at least 74 mph in a 35 mph zone, and he was intoxicated, said Clint Wasserman, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor.

On Tuesday, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge James Bates sentenced Peterson to three years in prison for aggravated vehicular assault. The judge also suspended Peterson’s driver’s license for five years — a sentence that didn’t sit well with Mr. Lemon.

“I was surprised that it was so short,” Mr. Lemon, 32, said after the hearing. “I think it’s a broken system that has no justice for the victim. I’ll still be dealing with my injuries in eight years when I need a knee replacement.”

Peterson pleaded no contest March 4 to the third-degree felony, which carried a maximum sentence of five years in prison, for the crash at Berdan Avenue and Sherbrooke Road. He briefly apologized to his victim in court.

Mr. Lemon, who asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence, told the court he was newly employed with CSX Transportation in a training program when the crash sent him to the hospital for 26 days and to a wheelchair for three months. He said he is to undergo his fourth surgery next week to repair ligaments in his left knee.

Mr. Lemon said he is struggling to support his wife and three young children on disability income.

While he doesn’t know much about Peterson, he said, he does know that he “hit me while driving his truck drunk — three times the legal limit. I also know he spent less than a day in the hospital. He did not spend a day in jail. He has a job, and he was able to return to work following the accident. He has no problem walking, and his driving privileges have not been suspended.”

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.



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