July 30, 2014

Medina
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I-71 fatality brings four years in prison

By ALLISON WOOD
Staff Writer

MEDINA — A former executive at Panther Expedited Services in Seville was sentenced to four years in prison Monday after pleading guilty to killing a Sheffield Lake man and injuring his wife in a 2006 accident on Interstate 71.

John J. Sliter, 37, of 2917 Woodhaven Drive, Granger Township, pleaded guilty last month to a count of aggravated vehicular homicide, a third-degree felony, and a count of aggravated vehicular assault, a fourth-degree felony, as part of a plea agreement.

On Dec. 19, 2006, Sliter met some co-workers at a restaurant in Seville and admitted to having a few mixed drinks there, court documents show. While driving north on I-71 in Montville Township, and bending down to grab his cell phone, his truck hit a van driven by Walter Rozmarynowycz, 69, with his wife, Mary, as a passenger.

Sliter’s truck went through the median and into the southbound lane, and the Rozmarynowyczs’ van veered off the road and rolled onto its top.

Walter Rozmarynowycz was pronounced dead at the scene and Mary was taken to Cleveland MetroHealth Medical Center, where she was released a few days later. Sliter suffered minor injuries.


John J. Sliter (right), 37, of Granger Township, is sentenced to four years in prison Monday after pleading guilty last month to killing a Sheffield Lake man and injuring his wife in a 2006 accident on Interstate 71. Sliter’s attorney, Brian Downing, speaks at Monday’s sentencing in Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier’s court. (Bridget Commisso | Staff Photographer)


All lanes of I-71 were closed for 1½ hours after the crash.

At his sentencing hearing, Sliter apologized to the victims’ family and to his own family, which includes two young sons.

“There is nothing I can do to make up for it,” he said, crying, while addressing several members of the victims’ family. “I wish this never happened.”

Sliter’s attorney, Brian Downing, said he never had a client as emotionally distraught about his actions as Sliter, and his remorse was genuine.

Along with his prison sentence, Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier ordered Sliter to pay $22,000 in medical and funeral costs to the victims’ family and suspended his driver’s license for the rest of his life.

“This is a kind of case that is absolutely a tragedy,” Collier said.

As part of the plea agreement, Sliter will not file for early release from prison for at least two years, county Prosecutor Dean Holman said.

He was taken into custody Monday. He had been free on bond.

More than 50 co-workers, family members and friends wrote letters to Collier in support of Sliter.

Wood may be reached at 330-721-4050 or allisonwood@ohio.net.