MILLERSBURG -- A Sugarcreek man who drove his buggy into oncoming traffic, causing the death of another driver, accepted his criminal responsibility when he appeared Wednesday, March 22, in court.
Robert S. Coblentz, 75, 2662 State Route 93, pleaded guilty in Holmes County Municipal Court to a single count of vehicular manslaughter.
Joyce Morris, 74, Maple Street NW, Sugarcreek, died Jan. 20 from injuries sustained in the crash, which occurred at the intersection of state Route 39 and County Road 114 in Walnut Creek Township, according to the Wooster Post of the State Highway Patrol.
In contemplating his plea, Coblentz, who appeared in a wheelchair, said, "The charge is correct. I know that. I was at fault. I know that."
He also added, "I apologize to the family," although Judge Andrew Hyde said he would be engaging Coblentz in a conversation about what happened at sentencing, scheduled for April 26.
While the second-degree misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine, Hyde told Coblentz, "With what I know of the facts, I can tell you you're not looking at a maximum penalty."
Nevertheless, Hyde said, he also wants to hear from Morris' family.
According to the patrol, Morris, driving a 2011 Chrysler 200, was was northbound (within a mile-long north-south stretch) on state Route 39, when she crashed into a horse, pulling a buggy, which had been eastbound on County Road 114 and pulled into her path.
Coblentz was the operator of that buggy, from which he and his wife, Effie, 67, were ejected. The horse died on contact.
Morris, who was trapped inside the car, had to be extricated by mechanical means. She was flown via emergency helicopter from the scene to Summa Akron City Hospital, where she eventually died.
Robert Coblentz reported he believed he failed to fully pull up to the stop sign, causing another sign, located further down the road, to obstruct his view of the oncoming car, according to the patrol.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.