MEDINA — A young man apologized for his actions that led to the deaths of two teenagers last year, and their mother forgave him Thursday in juvenile court.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Ehrbar for my fault in this accident. You’re in my prayers every day, and there’s not a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought about all this,” Jonathan Slifka, 18, said at his sentencing hearing to Laura Ehrbar DePiero, the mother of the siblings who died following the accident outside their Wilbur Road home.
On April 28, Slifka was speeding along Wilbur on his way to Highland High School and collided with a car driven by 16-year-old Erin Ehrbar, who was pulling out of her driveway for school.
Erin was pronounced dead at the scene. Her brother, 13-year-old Andrew, who was a passenger in her car, died at a hospital the next day.
The Ohio Highway Patrol later found both drivers at fault in the accident. Erin Ehrbar failed to yield the right of way and Slifka was speeding, a patrol report said.
Slifka admitted to two counts of vehicular manslaughter last month. Juveniles admit to or deny charges. They do not plead guilty or not guilty. Slifka was 17 at the time of the accident.
Juvenile Judge John J. Lohn sentenced Slifka to three days in jail, a term that will start April 27.
“This is the day before, the day of and the day after the one-year anniversary of this automobile crash,” Lohn said.
Slifka also will be on house arrest on May 2, what would have been Erin Ehrbar’s 18th birthday and what would have been Andrew Ehrbar’s 15th birthday on Aug. 13.
Other punishments for Slifka include indefinite probation, a driver’s license suspension until he turns 21 and a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. He also must make a presentation about the dangers of speeding to other juveniles in the court system.
Lohn said Laura Ehrbar DePiero and her family also may participate in the program if they so desire.
Ehrbar DePiero held a picture of Erin and Andrew as she told Slifka about the grief she experienced after losing her children. However, she said understood that Slifka also suffered after the accident.
“I challenge you to find a way to make a difference in the world and make it a better place, something Erin and Andrew had already done on this short time on earth,” she said.
She asked Slifka to seek to keep alive Erin’s “bright and playful personality” and Andrew’s “most giving heart.”
“In return, we will give you peace and forgiveness, because that is what makes the difference and that is what will make this world a better place,” she said.
Contact Maria Kacik Kula at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.