COURT Man pleads no contest in fatal crash that killed 6
The assistant prosecutor said the defendant deserved credit for taking responsibility.
PORT CLINTON, Ohio (AP) -- A driver accused of starting a chain-reaction accident that killed six people in June has pleaded no contest to charges related to the deaths.
Brian Woody, 29, of Toledo, entered his plea to six counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count of aggravated vehicular assault in Ottawa County Common Pleas Court on Thursday.
Woody is scheduled to be sentenced March 4. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 31 1/2 years in prison.
Ottawa County assistant prosecutor Lorrain Croy said Friday that Woody deserves some credit for taking responsibility.
"He decided to take responsibility for the deaths of those six people," Croy said. "What he did was irresponsible and reckless, and now the families of those people are going to suffer, and that's a tragedy. But it is unusual for a defendant to take responsibility for his actions, and I'm glad he did that."
After the accident, Woody tested positive for small amounts of marijuana, Valium and alcohol.
Tests showed that Woody's blood-alcohol was 0.025 percent, which is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Woody was indicted in October on 12 counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.
Six of those counts alleged that he was driving under the influence and the other six counts alleged he was driving recklessly.
He also was indicted on two counts of aggravated vehicular assault and one count of attempting to leave the scene of an accident.
Croy said prosecutors agreed to the plea deal because they weren't sure that the low levels of alcohol and narcotics found in his system would be enough to persuade a jury he should be convicted on all counts.
"He did have some slight indication in his blood that he did have a little bit of marijuana and a little bit of alcohol," she said. "However, it was not an amount that would sustain impairment."
Woody told police he had two beers at Cedar Point amusement park about nine hours before the accident on June 21 near Lake Erie.
Six people from the Detroit area were killed while on their way home from the park in Sandusky.
The accident began when the Blazer that Woody was driving went left of center and struck a tractor-trailer, causing the semi to hit a Cadillac Escalade and another car, the patrol said.
The victims were all in the Escalade and included the driver, his two daughters and his niece. The sport utility vehicle landed upside down in a creek.
Woody's attorney Adrian Cimerman said his client is still grappling with his involvement in the crash.
"I think he's still in shock over the whole thing," Cimerman said. "It's crazy how your life can change in a split second."