A Lakewood man could face up to 36 months in jail after accepting a plea bargain last week.
William P. Patsouras, 51, entered a no contest plea to three counts of vehicular assault in Carroll County Common Pleas Court July 6 in connection with a 2017 traffic crash that left three teens seriously injured.
The head-on crash occurred on SR 39 between Carrollton and Dellroy June 13, 2017, when Patsouras’ westbound truck hit an eastbound vehicle driven by Abigail G. Rainsberg, then 18, of Dellroy.
Injured in the crash were Abigail and her brother, Tzak Rainsberg, then 15, a passenger, both of 24 S. Arch St., Dellroy, along with Kimberly M. Cross, then 18, of 3199 Avalon Rd., Carrollton, who was a passenger in the front seat of the Rainsberg car. Cross was trapped in the vehicle and had to be freed by firefighters using the jaws of life.
All three were transported to Aultman Hospital, Tzak was flown by helicopter to Akron Children’s Hospital. Tzak continues to receive treatment for his injuries.
Patsouras was treated at the scene by Smith Ambulance personnel.
Patsouras was indicted by a Carroll County grand jury Nov. 8, 2017, on three counts of aggravated vehicular assault and three counts of vehicular assault.
As a result of plea bargain negotiations, Carroll County Prosecuting Attorney Steven D. Barnett dismissed the aggravated vehicular assault charges.
In a media release dated July 6, Barnett said the aggravated vehicular assault charges (third-degree felonies) were dismissed since the state’s expert witness could not conclusively establish Patsouras was impaired at the time of the crash.
The prosecutor noted the investigation by sheriff deputies revealed Patsouras had levels of marihuana and amphetamines detected in his urine collected at the crash scene.
“Merely having levels over the legal limit by itself is not enough to prove aggravated vehicular assault,” Barnett said.
“In cases like this, the state is required to prove any effects of controlled substances caused impairment of the driver and that the crash resulted from that impairment.
“Our toxicologist concluded that impairment could only be determined from blood analysis – not urine, as was taken from Patsouras,” Barnett said.
The prosecutor stated that the impairment element requires different proof than what is generally required for a misdemeanor OVI over-the-limit case.
“The victims understand the obstacle in proving the higher level felonies without blood analysis. They are in agreement with the pleas to the three counts of vehicular assault,” Barnett added.
As a result of the plea bargain, a trial set to begin July 12 was canceled.
Sentencing is scheduled Aug. 13 at 11:30 a.m. before Judge Dominick E. Olivito Jr.