Settlement reached in crash that killed 3 Marine recruits
By Ed Runyan
A consolidated lawsuit filed by attorneys representing people injured or killed in a March 31, 2010, traffic crash on state Route 5 just west of Warren has been settled.
Three young Trumbull County men on their way to Cleveland to complete their enlistment in the Marines were killed in the crash, which was caused by truck driver Donald P. Williams of Austintown.
Williams, who had two anti-anxiety medications in his system at the time for which he had no prescription, eventually was sentenced to 16 years in prison in the crash.
Details of the settlement are not being released pending approval by the Trumbull County Probate Court.
Rose Sherbourne, grandmother of Joshua Sherbourne, said she didn’t know anything about the suits being settled, but she believes it will help everyone involved “move on and remember them [the three who died] while they were here. It’s been a long process of grieving and waiting.”
Several of the attorneys who completed negotiations over two days last week in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court with the assistance of Tony Cornicelli, Trumbull County common pleas court magistrate, did not return calls seeking comment.
According to court documents, the combined settlement covered eight civil suits filed in 2010 and 2011.
There were 18 plaintiffs seeking compensation from Williams; his former employer, Nick Strimbu Inc. of Brookfield; Progressive Insurance; and others.
Among the plaintiffs were Michael T. Theodore Sr., father of recruit Michael T. Theodore Jr., 19, of Howland; George R. Sherbourne, father of recruit Joshua Serbourne, 21, of Southington; John Nolen Jr., relative of recruit Zachary A. Nolen, 19, of Newton Falls and Mineral Ridge; recruiter Charles Keene of Youngstown; and recruit Carl W. McDermott of Masury.
Keene and McDermott also were in the Pontiac G6 containing the recruits and were injured.
The Theodore lawsuit sought $20 million in punitive damages from Strimbu Trucking and Williams, as well as compensatory damages and funeral expenses.
Among the attorneys involved were Martin F. White, James E. Lanzo, Thomas J. Wilson, David D’Apolito, and Mark Gervelis.
The crash involved seven vehicles, including a motorcycle. Prosecutors said dash-cam video in Williams’ semi showed him in a trancelike state as his truck crashed into the recruits’ vehicle. After hitting the recruits’ car, which was stopped at a traffic light at Burnett Street, Williams’ truck traveled an additional 581 feet, hitting six vehicles, causing the three deaths and nine other injuries. The truck’s brakes were never applied.
Besides the Marine recruiter and recruits, the crash also involved Robert Bacue of Warren, Judy Trimble of Newton Falls, Rudolph Palya of Windham, James Migliozzi of Ravenna, and Donald Beach of Youngstown, who was riding a motorcycle, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said just after the crash.
Some of those people were dismissed from the suit earlier, according to court records.