A Massillon man will spend time in prison after he crashed into a Stow police cruiser and injured the officer in it this past May.

Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Kelly McLaughlin sentenced Stephen Eibel, 57, Tuesday to a mandatory 30 months in prison and also suspended Eibel’s driver’s license for seven years, according to the office of Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh.

On Aug.13, Eibel pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular assault, a third-degree felony; and to operating a vehicle under the influence, a first degree misdemeanor. A second OVI count in a grand jury indictment was dismissed as part of a plea deal. He was being held in the Summit County Jail before his sentencing.

“This is the sixth time Mr. Eibel has been caught driving drunk. He’s lucky that no one was seriously injured or killed,” said Walsh. “Mr. Eibel’s actions put us all at risk. This is why I fight for stronger sentences for repeat drunk drivers.”

Paul E. Meyer, Eibel’s attorney, said that Eibel took responsibility for his actions and apologized to the officer, the court, and his own family during his sentencing.

“At the sentencing, he did say how sorry he was to have caused harm,” said Meyer. “He was very contrite. He was quite subdued. I’ve had clients who don’t admit that or they’ll still take a position where they aren’t at fault or they’ll blame someone else, but he was not like that at all.”

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 in front of the point where the lane was 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 back, 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 was measured at 0.216 percent, more than twice the 0.08-percent legal limit.

A search of court records uncovered four instances in which Eibel was convicted for OVI offenses. 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.

Meyer acknowledged that Eibel has a history of issues with alcohol and this was compounded by grief at the time of the crash.

“His son died of an overdose about a year ago and so it was a very tragic loss of his son,” said Meyer. “He was looking at some pictures of his son back when his son was a wrestler at Walsh Jesuit High School [in Cuyahoga Falls]. Steve used to drive his son to school every day and he was looking at these pictures and started getting very nostalgic and very emotional and he was drinking and he drank way, way too much and he decided to go on a trip to Walsh Jesuit High School. He just wanted to trace his steps when he drove his son to school and he very tragically drove into the back of a Stow police cruiser…It was a very difficult situation. He was quite culpable for what happened. It’s regrettable.”

Meyer said Eibel’s sister also spoke during the sentencing.

“She wanted the judge to know her brother is a good man, that although he did some bad things, he essentially was a good person,” said Meyer.

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, jsaunders@recordpub.com or @JeffSaunders_RP.