Trucker faces more charges in recruits’ deaths

By Ed Runyan


Donald P. Williams Jr. of Austintown, accused of driving his tractor-trailer cab into a stopped car containing four Marine Corps recruits, killing three of them, has been indicted on additional charges that carry a penalty of up to 60 years in prison.

The charges this time include a misdemeanor drug-possession charge and a specification that Williams previously was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs three times.

Williams, 45, of Bainbridge Avenue, who was indicted in August on three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and three counts of aggravated vehicular assault, is now indicted on 13 counts. His original charges carried a penalty of up to 191/2 years in prison.

The superseding indictment handed up Friday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court says Williams was “drug drunk” on Valium and a similar drug, Nordiazepam, while listening to heavy-metal music and speeding.

“As a result of his speeding, drug abuse and disregard for a working traffic signal in broad daylight,” Williams’ truck hit the back of the recruits’ car and continued forward 581 more feet, eventually involving six other vehicles, the indictment said.

Despite the impact of Williams’ car hitting the recruits’ Pontiac G6, Williams continued driving his truck “without visible reaction and did not apply his brakes,” the indictment said.

Investigators have said that the truck, owned by Strimbu Trucking of Brookfield, was equipped with video equipment that indicated that Williams failed to apply his brakes before the crash.

The crash took place at 3:45 p.m. March 31 on state Route 5 just west of Warren. The recruits’ car was stopped at a red light at Burnett Street when it was struck. They were on their way to Cleveland to complete their enlistment in the Marines.

Killed were Zachary A. Nolen, 19, of Mineral Ridge and Newton Falls; Joshua A. Sherbourne, 21, of Southington; and Michael T. Theodore Jr., 19, of Howland.

Williams also is charged with three counts of aggravated vehicular assault because of serious injuries to two other people in the Marines’ car — driver and Marine recruiter Charles W. Keene and recruit Carl W. McDermitt III of Masury — and serious injuries to motorcyclist Donald L. Beach of Youngstown.

Williams returns to court at 1:30 p.m. next Friday to be arraigned on the new charges. Bond previously was set at $50,000.

Prosecutors have said Williams was sent to prison in 1989 on a felony drug offense; was convicted of selling alcohol to minors and contributing to the delinquency of minors in 2000; was arrested for falsification in 2001; was convicted of drunken driving in 1987, 1993 and 2000; and had a series of moving violations in 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2006.

Williams lied on his application to get hired by Strimbu Trucking by claiming he had no criminal record, prior arrests or history of DUI, prosecutors said.

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