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Lawsuit filed in fatal crash

LISBON — A Salineville woman and her husband’s estate filed a new lawsuit this week in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court over a 2018 traffic crash, alleging wrongful death, negligence, liquor liability and breach of contract.

Wilma Smith, Haiti Road, and the estate of Donald J. Smith, administered by his daughter Kimberly Carman, filed the new claim against the following defendants: Daniel Gray, of Leetonia, listed as owner of John and Helen’s Tavern; John and Helen’s Tavern of Kensington; End Entertainment LLC doing business as the Tangerine Lounge, Salineville; American Legion John Adams Post 442, Salineville; Glenn McKenzie, Belmont Correctional Institute, St. Clairsville; Amber Lynn Korbel, Hammondsville; and Ohio Mutual Insurance Group Inc., Upper Arlington.

The accident occurred at 10:18 p.m. Dec. 7, 2018 when McKenzie, a former Yellow Creek Township Trustee, lost control of his Cadillac SRX sport utility vehicle while northbound on state Route 39 in Washington Township, crossed the center line and crashed head-on into the southbound Chevy Equinox driven by Donald Smith with his wife Wilma as the front-seat passenger. Korbel, who was 17 at the time, was driving a Chevy Impala behind the Smith vehicle and struck their vehicle from behind in a second collision.

Besides the allegation of negligence, the lawsuit claimed exemplary damages due to McKenzie operating his vehicle under the influence of alcohol and other substances and alleged that Korbel was distracted and following too closely. The liquor liability claim alleged that John and Helen’s Tavern, the Tangerine Lounge and the American Legion John Adams Post 442 all wrongfully served McKenzie alcohol the night of the accident, Dec. 7, 2018. The wrongful death claim sought damages for the estate and surviving heirs. Donald Smith died April 15, 2020. The final claim of breach of contract was against the insurance company related to the amount of uninsured motorist coverage for the Smiths.

McKenzie, formerly of state Route 39, Wellsville, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated vehicular assault, two counts of vehicular assault and a charge of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs in connection with the accident.

He was originally sentenced in September 2020 to 45 months in prison and had his license suspended for life, but appealed the sentence. The appeals court ruled in his favor and remanded the case back to Common Pleas Court for a new sentencing hearing, which was held in September 2021.

The new sentence was 36 months in prison total, with credit for 411 days served at that time. His license was suspended for 10 years and restitution of $208,890 was ordered.

mgreier@mojonews.com

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