AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Trumbull County man police say was involved in a deadly crash on I-76 late last month insists he was sober at the time and is blaming a malfunction of the truck he was driving. The victims’ families aren’t buying anything he’s saying.
Still bearing scars from his recent accidents, Gregory Barnhart appeared in court Wednesday morning, facing OVI and traffic charges connected to a crash earlier this month.
Prosecutors say he’s the same man involved in a deadly crash two weeks earlier that claimed two lives.
“I anticipate there is going to be an indictment,” Atty. Mike McBride said.
The crash on September 28 near Lake Milton killed Bill Mounts, of New Middletown, and Brad Ronci, of Youngstown, who were riding in a van.
Troopers say the truck Barnhart was driving went left of center on Route 534 and crashed into the victims’ van.
Barnhart has not been charged in that accident, which is still under investigation.
On Wednesday morning, prosecutors asked for a $100,000 bond.
“Because of what our investigation’s leading us to say — and we want to make sure the defendant is not on the road and not creating a danger to anyone,” McBride said.
In front of the judge, Barnhart — who has a long history of drug and drunk driving charges — claimed he was sober the morning of the crash, initially saying the victims were only hurt.
“Not only did he kill two people, he killed both their families,” said Tammi Petrosky, Ronci’s mother.
“One of which was my boyfriend and who I planned to spend my life with. So he changed my life completely,” said Kaley Buccini, Ronci’s girlfriend.
Both Petrosky and Buccini wore shirts with Ronci’s picture on them.
“I brought my son home yesterday in an urn,” Petrosky said. “I no longer get to talk to him…I no longer get to hear his voice.”
Family members said Ronci and Mounts were on their way to a festival in Newton Falls that day, but never made it.
“We did a lot together and we’re trying to stick together, but it’s difficult. It’s tough,” said Jim Serenko, Mounts’ nephew.
While Barnhart sits in jail, families of both victims said they will follow his case as long as it takes.