Man gets 10 years in fatal crash

WARREN – A 43-year-old Diamond man was sentenced to 10 years in prison Wednesday after killing a Newton Falls couple while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Paul Wodianka apologized briefly to the family of Jamie, 37, and Emily Danes, 29, killed Sept. 21 – the night they celebrated their wedding anniversary – on South Canal Street, south of Hott-West Road.

Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay handed down the sentence that was agreed upon by an assistant prosecutor and Wodianka’s attorney. He also suspended Wodianka’s driver’s license for life.

Wodianka, who has remained in jail since the crash, pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, DUI and four counts of drug possession for what state troopers said were sedatives in his system with a blood alcohol content of just under the legal limit.

More than 15 members of the Danes family along with friends were in court to watch the sentencing, including four family members who read victim impact statements.

A prosecutor’s representative read the most touching statement, written by 8-year-old Brendan Danes, who lost his parents in the crash:

”Dear Paul, Can you stop drunk driving, so people don’t get hurt? I want you to know that my parents meant everything to me. I remember they went to a movie and never returned. I’ve been sadder than I’ve ever been. I wish they didn’t die that soon,” the boy wrote.

The mothers of each victim read their own statements along with John Danes, Jamie’s brother, and Mark Kivimaki, the brother of Emily.

”As for what I would like to see happen to Paul Wodianka, nothing is going to bring Emily and Jamie back. The defendant didn’t just take my sister and brother-in-law, he took away a child, parents, sibling, a godmother, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin and a friend to many,” Kivimaki told the judge.

”If you kill someone with a gun or a knife, you can spend the rest of your life in prison. Because Mr. Wodianka chose to use a car, his sentence is significantly lower,” Kivimaki said.

Assistant county prosecutor Michael Burnett explained that Wodianka did not have prescription for any of the three types of drugs that were in his system and he had a prior conviction in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court for drug possession in March 2011.

Burnett said Wodianka was driving his 1997 Cadillac Seville over the speed limit when he drifted left of center, crashing into the car carrying the couple.

Wodianka was driving north on South Canal at a high rate of speed, while the Daneses were traveling south on South Canal. Wodianka then drove left of center, striking the couple’s 2005 Chevrolet Impala head-on.

He had been charged with DUI at least three times in the past, most recently in 2010.