MEDINA — A Granger Township teenager admitted to charges Wednesday that stemmed from an April accident that killed two fellow Highland students.
Jonathan Slifka, 18, admitted in Medina County Juvenile Court to two counts of vehicular homicide, each a first-degree misdemeanor. Slifka acknowledged he drove above the speed limit on April 28, causing the death of 16-year-old Erin Ehrbar and her 13-year-old brother, Andrew.
Based on his admission, Juvenile Judge John J. Lohn found Slifka a delinquent juvenile. Slifka could be sentenced to 90 days in a juvenile detention center for each of the two counts to which he admitted. His disposition hearing is set for Feb. 24.
Prosecutors agreed to drop two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, two counts of vehicular manslaughter and one count of possession of marijuana.
Juveniles admit to or deny charges. They do not plead guilty or not guilty.
Chris Tunnell, one of two Richland County assistant prosecutors assigned to the case, said there were traces of marijuana found in Slifka’s system after the crash. He said that means Slifka could have ingested the drug any time in the 30 days before the accident.
“There’s no allegation he was impaired” at the time of the accident, Tunnell said.
“We all acknowledge it was a very difficult time for all families, and I can assure you Mr. Slifka has taken this with all seriousness and feels very sorry for the Ehrbar family,” Slifka’s attorney Donald Varian said after Wednesday’s hearing.
Laura Ehrbar, mother of Andrew and Erin, cried during the hearing. She was accompanied by her husband, Chris DePiero, and his brother, Parma Mayor Dean DePiero.
“We’re comfortable with this resolution,” Dean DePiero said. “We’re going to allow the legal process to play out. It’s the family’s hope that something good will come out of this.”
On her way to school the morning of April 28, Erin Ehrbar was attempting to pull out of her driveway on Wilbur Road when her car was hit by a vehicle driven by Slifka, then 17, who was westbound on Wilbur.
Slifka’s vehicle struck the driver’s side of Ehrbar’s Pontiac Sunfire, pushing it to the other side of the road. Erin was pronounced dead shortly after the accident, and Andrew, a passenger in her car, died at Cleveland MetroHealth Medical Center the following day.
The Ohio Highway Patrol found both Slifka and Erin Ehrbar at fault in the accident. The patrol’s crash report says sun glare and a dip in the road may have obstructed Erin’s view as she attempted to exit her driveway.
The patrol also found that Slifka was driving between 61 and 71 mph. The speed limit for that section of Wilbur Road is 50 mph with a posted suggested speed of 30 mph because of hidden driveways in the area.
Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.