Farmdale man, 19, won’t face felony charge in Bazetta traffic fatality
WARREN — A Trumbull County grand jury on Thursday refused to indict a Farmdale man on felony aggravated vehicular homicide but remanded a misdemeanor charge of vehicular homicide back to Central District Court in Cortland for prosecution.
Mark J. Donaldson, 19, of Meadville Road, will also still have to face charges in Central District Court of operating a motor vehicle impaired and possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.
The charges resulted from a May 9, 2017, head-on crash on Johnson Plank Road in Bazetta Township that injured Donaldson but killed the driver of the other vehicle.
Marye Urey, 59, of Niles-Cortand Road in Howland died at the hospital after being taken from the scene of the 8:05 a.m. crash.
Donaldson told investigators he had just come from the Trumbull Career and Technical Center in Champion, where he dropped off his girlfriend and was headed back home.
His vehicle crossed the center line and hit the minivan driven by Urey, which was in a ditch on the right side of the road when police arrived. The vehicle was wedged into the ditch, making it difficult to remove Urey or her front-seat passenger.
Troopers with the Ohio State Highway Patrol told The Vindicator there was no indication at the scene of alcohol or drug use by either driver.
But the patrol obtained a blood sample from Donaldson that showed he had a level of 108 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana metabolite in his system, enough to charge him with OVI.
A highway patrol report says a trooper did suspect Donaldson was impaired when he interviewed Donaldson at the hospital after the crash.
“His eyes were red, bloodshot and glassy, and his pupils were dilated,” the trooper said. Donaldson also “appeared to be overly tired,” the trooper said.
In an interview, Donaldson said he had “smoked marijuana that morning to fall asleep.”
Donaldson told troopers he has a condition that can cause a loss of consciousness. In a written statement, Donaldson told troopers he did not remember crossing the center line and “stated he may have passed out, causing him to drive left of center.”
Donaldson also was charged with misdemeanor possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia after a search of his vehicle uncovered a container on the front floor board containing two small bags of marijuana, a scale and marijuana grinder.
Donaldson, who suffered leg and facial injuries in the crash, told troopers he smokes marijuana every night before bed to help him sleep and also takes prescription medications. He had smoked marijuana about 12:45 a.m. that morning before going to sleep, he said.
If Donaldson would have been indicted on felony aggravated vehicular homicide, he could have gotten up to eight years in prison.
He faces no more than six months in jail if he is convicted on the misdemeanor vehicular homicide.