Man gets year in prison for hitting bicyclist at mall
By Joe Gorman
A Boardman man was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to charges he struck a bicyclist with his vehicle in December in the Southern Park Mall parking lot.
Stephen Rivers, 23, entered his guilty plea before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to charges of improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, obstructing official business and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in the Dec. 14 incident.
Prosecutors and Rivers’ lawyer were recommending nine months in prison Wednesday for Rivers, who is also on probation for a charge of operating a vehicle impaired out of Girard, but Judge Krichbaum said he thought more time was necessary, especially because Rivers was on probation when the crime occurred.
Reports said Rivers hit a man on a bicycle while Rivers was doing “doughnuts” in the snow in the mall parking lot. He also had a loaded gun in his car, reports said. The bicyclist was not seriously injured, Assistant Prosecutor Michael Rich said.
Rivers’ attorney, Donna McCollum, told the judge her client has alcohol issues and he suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving overseas in the military, which sometimes affects his decision-making process.
Police reported seeing the vehicle near DeBartolo Place “traveling in a very reckless manner,” and stopped it on Boardman Boulevard.
Police said the driver, identified as Rivers, smelled of alcohol, was unsteady on his feet and refused to cooperate. They also found he was driving under multiple license suspensions.
In his vehicle, officers found the loaded handgun and two open bottles of liquor.
Rivers told the judge he was sorry for his actions, and he wants to find programs to stop him from using drugs and alcohol.