28-year-old gets six months for head-on crash

Accident injured Liberty principal

YOUNGSTOWN — Dylan N. Walters, 28, was sentenced Thursday to six months in the Mahoning County jail, two years of probation and a two-year driver’s license suspension in a 2021 head-on crash on state Route 46 in Austintown that badly injured another driver, as well as Walters and his two children.

Walters, of Meander Drive in Austintown, pleaded guilty in April to felony vehicular assault, and prosectors agreed to recommend that he get probation and no prison time. Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge John Durkin carried out the sentencing, giving Walters 21 days to “get his affairs in order” before Walters has to report to jail.

The driver of the other car, Jessica Kohler of Canfield, is a popular principal at Blott Guy PK-6 School in Liberty. In the days after the accident, students were encouraged to wear purple — Kohler’s favorite color — in a show of solidarity as she recovered.

Kohler told The Vindicator at the plea hearing that she suffered 11 broken ribs, collapsed lungs, a brain bleed, a minor brain injury, fractured hip and fractured hand in the crash. She spent five weeks in the hospital.

Walters was indicted on three counts of aggravated vehicular assault, three counts of vehicular assault, four counts of felony child endangering and two counts of driving under the influence.

Troopers with the Canfield post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol investigated the crash, which happened at 7:50 a.m. March 12, 2021, on Route 46 between Kirk and Shields roads.

Troopers said Walters was southbound on Route 46 when he drove left of center and struck Kohler’s car head-on. Both vehicles then traveled off the east side of the road into a ditch, the patrol stated in a news release. Kohler was traveling north.

Afterward, Kohler was in critical condition at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. Walters was in stable condition later at St. Elizabeth. His children, ages 7 and 5, were wearing seat belts and properly restrained, but one of the children was in critical condition later at Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron. The other child was stable.

During the plea hearing, Nick Brevetta, county assistant prosecutor, told Durkin that many of the dismissed charges would have “merged” with the vehicular assault for sentencing purposes and would not have increased Walters’ sentence.

Prosecutors dismissed the two driving-under-the influence charges, but they would have been able to prove that Walters was intoxicated, Brevetta said. The plea arrangement was in agreement with Kohler and her attorneys, who filed a civil suit on Kohler’s behalf, Brevetta said.

Kohler sued Walters and Denise Walters, also of the Meander Drive address, and Allstate Insurance, which is Kohler’s insurance company. The suit alleges Dylan Walters was under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs and that Denise Walters owned or controlled the car Dylan Walters was driving.


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