October 2, 2014

Elyria
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Man pleads guilty in death of nurse

ELYRIA — An Amherst man faces two to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty in the death of a Lorain nurse who was killed in March when the man’s SUV went left of center and hit her car on Colorado Avenue in Sheffield.

Royce Kowalczyk, 27, was convicted of charges including aggravated vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, possession of drugs and wanton or willful disregard on the highway.

Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will said his office and the family of nurse Terri Martin, 52, will ask for a long prison sentence.

Will said Kowalczyk tested positive for drugs and was convicted of driving under the influence in the March 2 crash, which occurred at about 7 a.m.

On April 19, less than two months after the fatal crash, Kowalczyk was charged by Elyria police with failure to control and leaving the scene of an accident. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail with 150 days suspended.

In a third accident in the past year, Kowalczyk ran into a pole and was charged with DUI, Will said.

Kowalczyk also was “apparently incoherent” during yet another arrest, Will said.

When he was arrested on May 3 on the charges in the fatal accident, Kowalczyk told booking officers he worked as a plumber. He has been held in lieu of $1.15 million bond.

Kowalczyk initially attempted to plead no contest to the aggravated vehicular homicide in Martin’s death, but it was crossed out and a plea of guilty was entered in its place.

After her death, friends of Martin wrote on The Chronicle-Telegram’s website that she had been a trauma and medical flight nurse.

At the time of her death, Martin, a mother and grandmother, was administrative nurse manager of Grant Medical Center/Ohio Health.

In lieu of flowers, her family asked for donations to the Sheffield Village Fire Department, whose members had tried to save her life.

Police determined that Kowalczyk drove left of center and collided head on with Martin’s Saab 9-7X in the fatal crash.

A second woman in a third car also was injured, and Kowalczyk’s 2000 white Ford Explorer came to rest on top of a guardrail.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.