April 25, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria man pleads guilty to fatal 2010 DUI crash

ELYRIA — The drunken driver who caused the car crash that claimed the life of Andrew “A.J.” Vincent in 2010 pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and other charges.

Mark Ralich, 23, could get up to 18 years in prison when he is sentenced later this year, said his attorney, Mike Camera.

Mark Ralich

Mark Ralich

Ralich also entered guilty pleas to charges of vehicular assault, DUI and willful or wanton disregard of safety on highways.

Ralich was behind the wheel of a Chevy Malibu when the car slammed into Vincent’s Ford Focus at the intersection of Brandston Avenue and Poplar Street around 1:30 a.m. Nov. 27, 2010.

According to prosecutors, Ralich had a blood-alcohol content of 0.23, almost three times the legal driving limit of 0.08, at the time of the crash. He also had marijuana and cocaine in his system, but the tests didn’t indicate how long before the crash the drugs were taken or if Ralich was still under the influence of them when the crash occurred.

Vincent, 18, had marijuana in his system, but, as with Ralich, the tests didn’t tell investigators whether he was under the influence of the drugs when the crash happened.

Ralich told police he had three double shots of Jack Daniel’s whiskey and Coke and two 22-ounce beers at an Elyria bar before the crash.

He also told officers that he knew he had a warrant out for his arrest and turned down Poplar Street to avoid police cars. Ralich estimated his speed at 60 mph and told police “I f—–d up,” according to court documents and police.

Camera said his client was taking responsibility for his actions.

“This is obviously a terrible, terrible situation,” he said after the plea. “My client is very remorseful.”

Vincent and three passengers were injured in the crash and one of those in his vehicle ran from the crash scene to his nearby home to get help from Vincent’s mother and sister. Vincent died en route to the hospital, while the others injured in the crash, including Ralich, survived.

County Prosecutor Dennis Will said there is no agreement in place for how much time Ralich will serve in prison in the case. He said he hasn’t yet decided if his office will push for the maximum sentence because he wants to review Ralich’s history and determine his level of remorse.

“I think a substantial sentence is warranted,” Will said. “The question is, how substantial?”

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.