Man gets six months for accident he doesn’t recall

LISBON – A Darlington, Pa., man, who claims he does not remember causing a 2010 motor vehicle crash which injured two people, was sentenced in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court to six months in prison.

Thomas C. Grove, 46, Darlington, Pa., had been charged with two counts of aggravated vehicular assault. However, in a plea agreement, prosecutor Leigh Bayer of the Ohio Attorney General’s office said she was willing to dismiss one of the two counts. One count differed only in that it claimed he acted recklessly in causing the vehicular assault.

Bayer told Judge C. Ashley Pike the victim in the case was not able attend, but had provided a written statement to the court about the accident. She did not make a recommendation one way or another as to sentencing and said the plea agreement prevented her from talking much about what happened the day of the accident.

According to reports from the time of the crash, in January 2010 the Ohio Highway Patrol handled an accident in which, Jerry Clark, 57, New Castle, Pa., was eastbound on state Route 14 in Unity Township at 6:35 p.m. Jan. 5 when another vehicle driven westbound by Grove went left of center and struck Clark’s vehicle head-on. Both Clark and Grove had serious injuries and East Palestine EMS responded. Clark was transported to the Jameson Medical Center in the New Castle area and Grove was taken to Beaver Valley Medical Center.

Grove’s attorney, Christopher Maruca, said his client has no memory of the crash and has less than a sixth-grade reading level. However, Maruca also said Grove still takes full responsibility for what he has been told happened and “has not taken a sip of alcohol since that day.” Maruca continued that Grove has had problems with alcohol in his life. He asked Pike to consider granting Grove probation.

Pike asked Grove if he wished to add additional information prior to sentencing. Grove responded with “there is really nothing I can think of your honor.”

Pike said he had some concerns about the case, such as the fact it happened in January 2010 and took until March 2013 until an indictment was issued. He noted he understood there were some jurisdictional issues investigating the accident when it happened on the Ohio-Pennsylvania line.

“It’s as simple as this,” Pike said. “It was a serious offense and you need to pay the price.”