ELYRIA — Gerald Wetherbee shouldn’t have been behind the wheel of the Kia Optima that smashed into a Honda Civic on Saturday night, a crash that killed two people and critically injured Wetherbee and two others.
Wetherbee’s driver’s license has been suspended since November because he hasn’t made court-ordered child support payments, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Wetherbee, 35, of Oberlin, was listed in serious condition Monday at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. The two other survivors of the accident on state Route 83 in Grafton, Tom Tomasheski, a 38-year-old corporal with the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office, and his 13-year-old daughter Danielle Tomasheski, were listed as critical in Cleveland hospitals.
Killed in the crash were Tomasheski’s 36-year-old wife, Tammy Tomasheski, and his 11-year-old son Tom Tomasheski III.
Ohio Highway Patrol troopers have said that Wetherbee’s northbound car veered off the right side of the road before crossing the center line and hitting the southbound Honda. The crash remains under investigation.
Wetherbee, whom troopers suspect may have been drinking, hasn’t been charged in connection with Saturday’s fatal crash, but he isn’t a stranger to law enforcement.
Not only does Wetherbee have two prior DUI convictions — one in 1999 and another in 2000 — he also is a registered sex offender with a history of crimes of violence, drugs, theft and forgery.
Wetherbee has been on parole since he was released from prison last May after serving a five-year sentence on charges of gross sexual imposition and pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor.
In that case, Wetherbee was accused of sexually molesting an 8-year-old girl he knew with a candle he’d carved and sexual lubricant in 2005, according to court documents.
Wetherbee told Elyria police that he had given the girl the candle to use as a sexual aid but denied that he had used it to molest her, according to a summary of his interview with a detective in the case.
He also told the detective that he is routinely aroused during normal activity, including while “driving his car,” prosecutors wrote in court filings.
Wetherbee’s only conviction in the year he’s been on parole — according to court records in Lorain County — came in April in Oberlin Municipal Court, when he paid $150 in fines and costs for dumping trash in a state area.
Wetherbee has had prior stints in prison for a domestic violence conviction in 2002 — he violated the conditions of his parole and was later returned to prison to serve additional time in that case — and for criminal nonsupport in 2005, according to Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction records.
JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Adult Parole Authority, said parole officers will likely wait to see what happens with the crash investigation before deciding whether Wetherbee violated his current parole status.
Failure to pay child support to his two children had landed Wetherbee in trouble with the court system again recently. During a May appearance in county Domestic Relations Court, he was ordered to begin paying some of the $6,987 in back child support he owed at the time or be held in contempt of court.
Tina Keith, Wetherbee’s ex-wife — who was listed as the victim in domestic violence cases in the court records — had sought and received a divorce while he was serving time in the sex case.
In one of those cases, Wetherbee’s mother, Christine Wetherbee, noted in a witness statement that her son and his friend got drunk and wouldn’t let Keith and her children leave.
“My son has a problem,” she wrote. “He really needs (professional) help.”
In another case, Wetherbee was accused of choking Keith when she refused to drive him from Lorain to Oberlin.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.