COLUMBUS — A motorist accused of striking and killing a road construction worker from Barnesville while driving on Interstate 70 in Franklin County last year was sentenced to five years in prison after entering an Alford plea to aggravated vehicular homicide and operating a vehicle while under the influence.
Edward Torres, 31, of South Solon, was sentenced to five years on the aggravated vehicular homicide charge and 180 days on the OVI charge with the sentences to be served concurrently for a total of five years in prison.
Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Schneider also suspended Torres’ driver’s license for the balance of his lifetime, effective on the May 2 sentencing date.
Once released from prison, Torres will be subject to three years of mandatory post-release control through the Adult Parole Authority.
Torres was ordered to pay a $375 fine and court costs. The court deferred the payment until after Torres is released from prison.
The charges stem from the Sept. 30, 2017, death of 59-year-old Steve L. Cook of Barnesville.
Torres was driving east on Interstate 70 at 1:35 a.m., approaching Hilliard-Rome Road, when he drove around barricades and into a construction zone where three right lanes were closed to traffic, Assistant Prosecutor Dan Cable said.
He continued driving his 2009 Honda Odyssey past a Franklin County Sheriff’s Office cruiser that had emergency lights activated. When Torres encountered a large pavement roller in the middle of the three lanes, he swerved into the far right lane, where Cook was standing.
Torres told officers that he had glanced down at his cellphone just before his minivan struck the worker.
Cook died at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center in Columbus.
Torres had an open container of alcohol in a cup holder and told officers that he’d "had a few beers," Cable said. A blood test determined that Torres had a blood-alcohol content of 0.19 percent — more than twice the legal limit in Ohio.
In the Alford plea, Torres pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and three OVI counts. The homicide charges and OVI charges merged for sentencing, so Torres was sentenced on only one of each charge.
In an Alford plea, a defendant professes innocence but concedes the state has sufficient evidence to get a conviction.