ELYRIA — The owner of an Elyria bar who was behind the wheel during the January 2011 car crash that killed his wife pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated vehicular homicide and DUI charges.
The plea came the same day George Diederich, 76, had been scheduled to go on trial in the case.
Paul St. Marie, Diederich’s attorney, said his client was taking responsibility for the death of 53-year-old Jean Ann Diederich.
“Due to his poor decisions, he lost the most important person in his life,” St. Marie said. “He wanted to accept responsibility and pay his debt to society.”
Although a presentence investigation will take place before Diederich is sentenced, St. Marie said Lorain County Common Pleas Judge James Burge indicated during Wednesday’s hearing that he is leaning toward giving Diederich a two-year prison sentence. It is the minimum he could receive.
Diederich, who owns Pudge’s Place, was driving a 2010 Nissan Versa east on Erhart Road in Grafton Township when the car veered off the road and slid about 500 feet before it flipped and ejected Jean Ann Diederich.
Then-county Coroner Paul Matus said that had Jean Ann Diederich been wearing a seatbelt, she likely would have survived. The car landed on her head as it rolled, according to those handling the case.
George Diederich was treated and released from the hospital for minor injuries. The Ohio Highway Patrol reported that he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.149 percent, well above the legal driving limit of 0.08.
Diederich has been free on bond while his case was pending and was not allowed to consume alcohol, although he was allowed to continue operating his bar.
St. Marie said Diederich has largely relinquished the day-to-day operations of the establishment to a family member.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or email@example.com.