GIRARD - A truck driver apologized to a judge before he was sentenced to 90 days of electronically monitored house arrest and fined $500 Monday.
Eugene White, 65, pleaded no contest in October to three counts of vehicular homicide in a 2010 crash on Interstate 80 in Hubbard Township that killed a Warren woman and her siblings.
White, of Shilo, also was placed on five years' probation and had his driver's license suspended for the same period.
His semi rear-ended a 2007 Ford Explorer on May 24, 2010, in a construction zone in the eastbound lane of I-80, pushing the SUV into a FedEx truck.
Killed were Shirley Gilmore, 65, of Warren, the driver of the Explorer that was carrying her brother and sister, David Westenfelder, 56, and Wendy Frost, 59, both of Surprise, Ariz. Gilmore was taking her family back to the Pittsburgh airport after celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary.
The highway was closed for nearly six hours after the SUV was sandwiched between the two trucks.
Courtnie Clark delivers an impact statement before Eugene White is sentenced Monday on three counts of vehicular homicide. Clark is the granddaughter of Shirley Gilmore, who died in the accident.
Tribune Chronicle / Christopher Bobby
Girard Municipal Judge Jeff Adler heard victim impact statements from three members of the same family who explained about losing three loved ones.
''I'm not happy with this situation,'' said Larry Gilmore, Shirley Gilmore's husband. ''I would just like to ask Eugene White what he was doing when he pulled up and traffic was stopped like that. He didn't stop. He didn't turn off the highway. She (Shirley) was the main person in this family ... the one we needed the most.''
Gilmore, a former Warren police officer, said a lawsuit is planned against the Ohio Department of Transportation, which established the construction zone. Another lawsuit against the trucking company White was driving for has been settled.
''Our grandmother was the rock of our family. She was an inspiration to all, a failure to none, and could brighten your day when she couldn't even brighten her own,'' said Courtnie Clark, granddaughter of Shirley Gilmore.
''The careless actions of Eugene White changed this family forever. Driving an 80,000-pound weapon on a familiar route with clear visibility, he failed miserably to take any evasive action, crushing my family to death,'' said Shirley Gilmore's daughter Janice, a police captain in Warren.
''Your honor, I understand this system. My family has worked with it for over 50 years. But it certainly leaves us extremely disheartened and with little remaining confidence. I do not feel sorry for Eugene White. I understand you cannot give us back our family or ease this sorrow from our heart. We do ask that you hold Eugene White accountable for the decision he made,'' Janice Gilmore said.
The vehicular homicide charges alleged negligence on the part of White. The maximum penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor was 180 days and the potential of having his license suspended for 2 to 10 years.
The charges from a grand jury contained no aggravated specifications such as alcohol, drugs or excessive speed, which could have resulted in felony charges. Instead, White was cited with failing to maintain assured clear distance.
White's attorney, Sam Amendolara, pointed out that his client has faithfully worked for the same company for 21 years and had earned a 1 million mile safe driving award.
''He's just an ordinary man, delivering frozen hamburger to McDonald's Restaurants,'' Amendolara said, explaining that the stretch of highway in Hubbard Township was the scene of 10 crashes during the first half of 2010, including five during the month of May when the construction zone was in place between mile marker 231 and 235.
The same stretch of roadway averages 54 accidents a year, Amendolara said.