A Poland man was sentenced Wednesday in Columbiana Municipal Court for his role in a March 2012 fatal accident that killed an East Liverpool man.
Michael Bair, 32, was sentenced to 90 days in jail beginning Friday on charges of vehicular manslaughter. Judge Mark Frost allowed him to report on Friday evening because he is scheduled for a deposition Friday morning in the civil case stemming from the crash.
Bair also was fined $500 and has his driver's license suspended for two years, but will have driving privileges. Frost also ruled that Bair is no longer permitted to operate heavy equipment.
Bair originally was charged with vehicular homicide. He pleaded no contest to the amended charge, according to court records.
According to court records, Bair was hauling gravel on Route 7 near Rogers when he swerved left of center to avoid hitting a vehicle that was stopped in traffic. He lost control of his dump truck and it overturned, landing on the SUV of David Mayfield, 35, of East Liverpool.
Assistant Columbia County Prosecutor Don Humphrey Jr. said he knew Mayfield, who had come to his office several times in the month before he died on another case in which he was a victim.
"These cases are all the more difficult because of their nature. It's not like Michael Bair got up that morning and intended to kill someone. The impact of this tragedy will impact Mr. Bair for many years. But he has a lot of years to live, while Mr. Mayfield does not," Humphrey said.
He said if the case had gone to trial, the evidence would have shown factors of speed, lack of assured clear distance and issues of weight and possibly an overloaded truck.
"Mr. Bair was familiar with the route and in fact already had taken it that day for a previous load. He was familiar with the truck entrance to the industrial site and we can only speculate on what the exact cause of the crash was, but the result was Mr. Mayfield's death," Humphrey said.
Defense attorney Colleen Dailey said her client did a lot of thinking and reviewed the evidence before deciding to enter his plea.
"He fully realizes it was his actions that day that led to the death of Mr. Mayfield and he is very sorry for that. He will have to live with that for the rest of his life," Dailey said.
She said Bair was trying to avoid one collision when he drove into another one.
Diana Mayfield, the victim's wife, said her husband did a lot for the community and helped people out whenever he could. She said her family, which includes four children, has been torn apart by Mayfield's death.
"My 5-year-old has nightmares and is scared of semis. My 7-year-old goes to counseling several times a week and is having problems in school. I got a call from the school yesterday that he tried to cut himself with a pair of scissors," she said through tears. "My kids were so happy. Now they are an emotional wreck."
Diana Mayfield said Bair has never showed remorse and she did not feel justice was served by the recommended sentence of 45 days.
However, Travis Brown, who is Bair's future brother-in-law, said Bair may not have apologized to the family directly, but he has told his own family how sorry he is for Mayfield's death.
"He regrets this every day of his life. He is probably scared to tell you himself, but I can apologize for him," Brown said.
Bair then addressed Mayfield's family directly, telling them he was advised by his attorneys to not have any direct contact with the family while the trial was pending.
"I express my deepest sorrow and I am truly sorry for what happened. It has been real hard to put this behind me. Sleepless nights and stress over this. There is nothing I can do. There is no time machine on either end and I am terribly sorry for this," Bair said.
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