Mahoning mental health official cited in crash

Staff report


The woman cited in a three-vehicle crash involving a Youngstown police cruiser and another vehicle carrying an infant pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Brenda S. Heidinger, 49, of North Hartford Avenue, Youngstown, who is associate director of the county Mental Health and Recovery Board, faces a misdemeanor count after being accused of ignoring the traffic signal, Youngstown Municipal Court records show.

A city police traffic accident report states Heidinger ran the red light at the corner of Market and Front streets just after 2 p.m. Jan. 31, causing the cruiser to strike Heidinger’s Nissan Rogue SUV and send it careening into the oncoming lane toward a Toyota Rav 4 SUV carrying Jarrod Marrie, 29, of Sharpsville, Pa., as well as his wife and infant daughter. Heidinger’s vehicle sheared off the front guard of the police cruiser being driven by 29-year-old officer Gregory Tackett of Youngstown.

“It looked like she was going 50 miles an hour – she was cruising,” Marrie told The Vindicator at the scene. “We were getting my baby’s birth certificate. ... It was supposed to be a good day.”

An uninvolved motorist whose vehicle was behind Marrie’s corroborated his statement. The traffic report does not include a statement from Heidinger.

No serious injuries were reported. The infant and mother were taken to the hospital as a precaution, Marrie said. Heidinger also was taken by ambulance to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.

“Thank God for airbags. I walked away,” Heidinger told The Vindicator on Monday.

She refuted Marrie’s claim that she was traveling 50 miles an hour through the intersection, but withheld further comment on the incident until after her court case is settled.

Heidinger is due back in municipal court Feb. 28 for a pre-trial hearing. She also has waived her right to a speedy trial.

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