Woman sentenced in Russo fatal crash


Staff report

ASHTABULA

The woman who pleaded no contest and was found guilty of causing an accident that killed a Youngstown Fire Department battalion chief was sentenced in municipal court Tuesday.

Josephine Palmer, 48, of Northfield, was sentenced to 90 days in jail with 26 suspended, fined $500 and also had her driver’s license suspended for 790 days for the Oct. 20 accident that killed Battalion Chief Ron Russo.

Russo, 64, of Poland, was riding a motorcycle when it struck a van at the intersection of state Route 45 and North Bend Road in Saybrook Township at 12:51 p.m. Oct. 20, 2017. Russo was riding with his brother Bob at the time he was fatally injured.

Palmer was charged Oct. 31 after an investigation by the Ashtabula post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol in consultation with the Ashtabula city solicitor.

Palmer pleaded no contest in February to a first-degree misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter and was found guilty.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail.

Investigators with the patrol said it appeared Palmer was behind a few vehicles at a stop sign at the intersection.

For whatever reason, she was not paying attention when it was her turn to go through the intersection and she did not come to a complete stop before going through and colliding with Russo’s motorcycle.

Troopers who investigated the crash said Palmer was not speeding, and there was no evidence she was using a cellphone at the time of the crash.

Palmer was using the GPS system on her phone, but the phone was placed somewhere where she could see it.

Other people in the van also told investigators Palmer was not on the phone.

Russo was a member of the fire department for 37 years.

His calling hours and funeral service attracted thousands of mourners, including firefighters from across the region.

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