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YOUNGSTOWN Salem woman pleads guilty in vehicular homicide case



Published: Sat, September 21, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The woman's car hit a telephone pole, then was hit head-on by another car.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A Salem woman who was behind the wheel of a car that crashed on Market Street, killing two of her friends, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Megan E. Buchanan, 20, of Euclid Street, faces up to 10 years in prison for each count when she is sentenced in November by Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. She also could be placed on probation, and Ohio law requires that her driver's license be suspended for at least three years.

Judge Krichbaum ordered that a background check be done before he sentences Buchanan.

What happened

According to police reports, Buchanan was driving south at a high rate of speed on Market Street in January when her car went off the right side of the road. It hit a telephone pole at Wayne Avenue, spun around the pole and landed back on the street, where it was hit head-on by another car.

Police said the women had just left a downtown bar.

Buchanan suffered severe injuries. Her passengers were killed. They were 20-year-old Donel M. Morlan and 23-year-old Nicole M. Barlow, both of Salem.

Buchanan's lawyer, Mark Lavelle, said pleading guilty was Buchanan's way of accepting responsibility for the accident.

"In her mind, she did the right thing," Lavelle said.

Lavelle said he will ask Judge Krichbaum to place Buchanan on probation rather than sending her to prison. He said there are "mitigating factors" to consider when Buchanan is sentenced, though he declined to elaborate and said he'll explain them at sentencing.

Judge Krichbaum allowed Buchanan to remain out of jail until her sentencing. She is not allowed to operate a motor vehicle and can't leave the state without the judge's permission.

bjackson@vindy.com




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