STOW — A Massillon man has pleaded guilty in connection with a traffic crash that injured a Stow police officer this past May.
According to Summit County Court of Common Pleas records, 57-year-old Stephen E. Eibel entered a written guilty plea Tuesday to third-degree felony aggravated vehicular assault and first-degree misdemeanor operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. James Pollack, spokesman for theSummit County Prosecutor’s Office, said a second OVI count in a grand jury indictment was dismissed as part of a plea deal.
According to Ohio State Highway Patrol investigators, the crash occurred in Route 8′s northbound left lane near Steels Corners Road at 10:27 p.m. on May 6.
Stow police Sgt. Ted Bell was sitting in his parked cruiser with his emergency lights activated just before the point where the lane closed for construction while providing security for construction workers when the 2016 Ford Fusion Eibel was driving struck the cruiser from behind. EMS took Bell to Akron General Hospital. According to a complaint OSHP filed in Stow Municipal Court, Bell suffered head and neck injuries.
Stow police said Bell missed two shifts while he was in the hospital for a couple of days, then took some previously scheduled time off and returned to work a week after the crash.
Eibel was taken to Akron City Hospital immediately following the crash where a blood sample was taken, OSHP said. According to municipal court records, Eibel’s blood alcohol content level measured at 0.216 percent, more than twice the 0.08-percent legal limit.
Eibel has been convicted at least four times for OVI offenses, according to court records. He was convicted twice in July 1997 in Massillon Municipal Court, once in March 2002 in Canton Municipal Court and once in June 2013 in Barberton Municipal Court.
Eibel is currently being held in Summit County Jail pending a Sept. 17 sentencing hearing before Judge Kelly McLaughlin.
According to his written plea, he could be sentenced to as much as five years in prison for the felony charge.
Paul Meyer, Eibel’s attorney, said Wednesday that Eibel is expected to make a statement at his sentencing.
"It’s a very difficult situation," said Meyer. "He suffered the death of his son recently and he was in a very depressed situation which led to the circumstance that surrounded the accident. But he did plead guilty, he did admit to being responsible for what happened, and he’ll have more to say at his sentencing."
Editor’s note: Reporter Rick Armon contributed to this story. Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, email@example.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.