ELYRIA — The two-year statute of limitations to charge the owner of the car involved in the June 2011 car crash that killed two members of the Tomasheski family has passed without the woman being charged with a crime.
Scott Strait, an Elyria city prosecutor, said this week that his office decided not to charge Nicole Balek because there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that Balek, 39, had willingly allowed Gerald Wetherbee Jr. to drive her Kia Optima.
“The evidence pointed to, and the (Lorain County Prosecutor’s office) agreed, that it didn’t look like she gave permission,” Strait said.
The Ohio Highway Patrol determined that Wetherbee was heading north on state Route 83 in Grafton when the Kia veered off the right side of the road, crossed the center line and slammed into a southbound Honda Civic driven by Thomas Tomasheski. The Kia was traveling at least 60 mph at the time of the crash.
Tomasheski, who had been a corporal at the Lorain County Jail, and his then-13-year-old daughter, Danielle Tomasheski, were critically injured and hospitalized for months following the crash. Tammy Tomasheski, Thomas Tomasheski’s wife, along with the couple’s 11-year-old son, Tommy Tomasheski, died.
Wetherbee, who had a blood-alcohol level of 0.209, more than twice the legal driving limit, also was injured in the crash.
The investigation determined that Wetherbee, a convicted sex offender who had a suspended driver’s license, had left a party at Balek’s home on the day of the crash but took the keys without securing Balek’s permission before doing so, Strait said.
“She would have had to give him permission (to be charged),” Strait said.
Balek initially was charged with misdemeanor wrongful entrustment, but those charges were dropped while the criminal case against Wetherbee moved through the court system.
Wetherbee, 37, was sentenced last year to 34 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, vehicular assault, DUI and driving under suspension.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.