An Akron man who pleaded guilty to charges related to the death of a Cuyahoga Falls man will spend the next eight years in prison.

Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Tammy O’Brien sentenced Sean Blackburn, 34, of Sumatra Avenue in Akron, to eight years in prison for causing a deadly crash which killed 21-year-old Thomas Leslein and severely injured two others. Blackburn must serve the entire eight-year sentence.

Last month, Blackburn pleaded guilty to felony charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony, two counts of aggravated vehicular assault, both third-degree felonies, and a first-degree misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle while under the influence.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan-Walsh issued a statement on the sentence.

“Sean Blackburn’s decision to drive drunk not only lead to Tommy Leslein’s death, but caused a lifetime of pain and suffering for Tommy’s family. This is another stark reminder of why people should not get behind the wheel if they’ve had alcohol,” she said. “Two others were seriously injured and although their physical injuries have healed, they will have to deal with the emotional impact of what happened for the rest of their life.”

Blackburn’s attorney, Michael T. Callahan, said his client was in tears during the sentencing hearing.

“He turned and faced the family and very tearfully and emotionally apologized to them,” Callahan said. “It certainly silenced the courtroom ... I think it was from the heart. It was not the situation that we often see where someone is crying because they’re going to jail — he was crying because he understood that he took somebody else’s life and he had some understanding of what it meant to them and what it meant to his family.

“Guys in his position are certainly portrayed, and in most instances rightly portrayed, as the bad guy,” Callahan added. “He was a decent guy who did something really bad and he recognized it ... He accepted it and he recognizes it and he’s paying the price for it.”

Police said Blackburn was driving a 2008 Cadillac on North Main and Howard Street about 1:30 a.m. April 7 when he crossed the center line and hit another vehicle carrying Thomas Leslein, 21, of Cuyahoga Falls, his cousin, 21-year-old Matthew Leslein, and UBER driver John Ware, 39.

Leslein died at the accident scene. Both Ware and Matthew Leslein suffered significant injuries in the crash, including several broken bones, a lacerated spleen, and head injuries.

Blackburn had a blood-alcohol level of 0.119, over the 0.08 legal limit, police said. In an Akron police report taken that night, an officer reported Blackburn told him he was too drunk to drive and had “three Heinekens and four Jager bombs” at a Cuyahoga Falls bar that night.

According to his obituary, Leslein graduated from Archbishop Hoban High School in 2015.

An athlete his whole life, Leslein was coached by his father and went on to play volleyball at Baruch college in New York City, “where he lived the best year of his life,” his obituary said.

Eric Marotta can be reached at 330-541-9433, or