A Grove City man is facing charges of homicide by vehicle from a 2015 Pine Township crash that killed an Ohio woman.
Randall Lee Smith, 65, was charged by state police Nov. 25, 2019, with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence of a controlled substance, homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, and two counts of driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
During a preliminary hearing held Jan. 15 with District Judge D. Neil McEwen, Pine Township, charges of homicide by vehicle and aggravated assault were waived to the Mercer County Court of Common Pleas.
The other charges were withdrawn. Smith is free on bond, and his Common Pleas arraignment is set for 10:30 a.m. April 21 with Judge Robert G. Yeatts.
The accident happened around 4 p.m. Sept. 2, 2015, on Barkeyville Road just west of Centertown Road.
Smith’s pickup truck hit a three-wheeled motorcycle driven by Peter J. Nepodal, of Medina, Ohio. The motorcycle’s passenger, Darlene L. Wilson, 52, of Medina, was killed.
According to court documents, Smith’s truck was heading west on Barkeyville Road, also known as state Route 208, when another vehicle turned left out a driveway into the westbound lane.
Smith steered his truck – an orange 2007 Chevrolet Colorado – into the eastbound lane into the path of the eastbound motorcycle, resulting in a head-on crash.
Smith told police that he swerved his truck into the other lane to avoid a collision with the vehicle turning out of the driveway.
He added that he had been prescribed fentanyl.
A witness who had been driving behind Smith told police that he saw a black pickup truck pull out of a driveway.
Smith could have applied his brakes and not rear-ended the other truck, said the witness, who did not see any brake lights illuminate on Smith’s truck.
The witness saw Smith’s truck cross into the other lane as if he was going to pass the black truck. Smith’s truck went airborne into a yard.
The driver of the black truck told police that he did not see Smith’s truck before he pulled out of the driveway into the westbound lane. He recalled passing a motorcycle in the eastbound lane.
When he looked in his rearview mirror, he saw the motorcycle spinning around.
A second witness who had been heading east told police that she saw Smith’s truck in her rearview mirror; it crossed into the eastbound lane and then went off the road.
That witness turned around and stopped to provide aid.
Police interviewed Nepodal on Sept. 7 at St. Elizabeth Health Center, Youngstown, where he had been taken after the crash.
He said that he and Wilson were going about 50 miles an hour in the eastbound lane when a westbound truck pulled into their lane.
Nepodal thought the truck was trying to pass another vehicle, and he swerved the motorcycle to the right. Nepodal said he did not have time to apply his brakes.
The truck swerved to its left, and the truck and motorcycle collided in a yard.
Wilson was pronounced dead at 4:22 p.m. at Grove City Medical Center, police said.
Smith’s blood test showed the presence of fentanyl, norfentanyl, O-desmethyltramadol, tramadol and alprazolam.
A traffic crash reconstruction report was completed on May 25, 2016, noting that Smith was driving between 76.8 and 83.2 miles per hour. The speed limit in that area is 55 miles per hour.
According to archives from The Herald, Nepodal and Wilson were wearing seatbelts. Smith was not, and he was flown to UPMC Presbyterian, Pittsburgh.