Columbus man facing 16th OVI charge after single-vehicle crash kills wife

Ohio

Robert Ellis, who the Franklin County Sheriff's Office described as a "habitual drunk driver" has a total of 36 past driving suspensions

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A 53-year-old Columbus man is facing aggravated vehicular homicide charges and his 16th operating a vehicle under the influence charge after a single-vehicle crash that resulted in the death of his 51-year-old wife.

Robert Ellis, described by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office as a “habitual drunk driver,” has a total of 13 prior convictions dating back to 1985 and 36 past driving suspensions. Two prior charges that were reduced to reckless operation, Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said.

Ellis was indicted on Dec. 2 with four different charges in connection to the fatal crash on Oct. 16 in Prairie Township.

Baldwin said Ellis had a blood alcohol level of .185, which is more than twice the legal limit.

“While investigating this fatal traffic crash, it was very clear to investigators that Mr. Ellis is one of the worst habitual repeat offenders of drunk driving we have seen. He has no regard for human life, continuing to be an extreme danger to the motoring public due to his criminal behavior of operating vehicles while impaired. It is further evident in this case in which he caused the death of his wife while having a blood alcohol of .185, which is more than double the legal limit,” Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said.

Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin

The charges include aggravated vehicular homicide, a first-degree felony, aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony, operating a vehicle under the influence, a third-degree felony, and another operating a vehicle under the influence, a third-degree felony, for being a repeat offender, according to a press release.

The crash occurred at 4:48 p.m. when Ellis was driving was traveling eastbound on Alkire Road west of Johnson Road and as he was negotiating a curve he went off the right side of the roadway and struck a utility pole.

He was taken to a Grant Hospital.

His wife, 51-year-old Dawn Ellis, of Columbus, was pronounced dead at the scene by Prairie Township Fire Medics.

Her daughter, Bobbi Spencer, said she worried about her mother every day because of Robert’s history.

“I’m so happy he’s behind bars so he cannot put anyone else’s family through what he’s put us through,” Spencer said. “But it’s still never gonna take the pain away that he’s caused all of us.”

Neighbors say Robert and Dawn Ellis had an alcohol-fueled relationship.

“They’d go to the bars come home late at night,” says neighbor Steven McDonald. “Jazz (Robert) would be up on the porch passed out and  Dawn would be down on the sidewalk calling for help because they was both drunk.”

Ellis was arrested and taken to the Franklin County Jail Tuesday night by deputies from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team.

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