By EILEEN MCCLORY
The parents of a Liberty-Benton High School graduate are making another call for the Hancock County prosecutor’s office and the Findlay law director’s office to prosecute the man they say caused the death of their daughter in a traffic accident.
“We’ve got so much evidence, and it feels like they (prosecutors) don’t even want to look at it,” Brett DeWeese, the father of the woman who died, said at a Findlay press conference on Wednesday.
Brett and Emily DeWeese are the parents of Rachel DeWeese, 22, who died at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, Toledo, on Nov. 4, 2016, following a car-truck accident. Her car went under a tractor-trailer that was turning west onto Hancock County 212 from the Best Buy Distribution Center, 14401 County 212.
According to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, her 2004 Pontiac Grand Am went under the truck’s trailer and then stopped in a field on the north side of the road.
William Hudson Jr. of North Carolina was driving the 1994 GMC tractor, according to the sheriff’s office.
Rachel DeWeese was first taken to Blanchard Valley Hospital, then transported to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center by medical helicopter. According to a coroner’s report, she died due to trauma sustained in the accident.
Hudson was never charged in connection with the crash.
The DeWeeses, their lawyer and a private investigator they hired all say they believe charges are possible.
J.C. Ratliff, the main lawyer representing the DeWeeses, said he thought there may be justification under Ohio law for either a felony or a misdemeanor charge in the case.
Ratliff said his clients have already received a “substantial payout” from the unidentified trucking company in the case.
The DeWeeses said Wednesday they were happy with the investigation that was done by the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office. What they don’t understand is the lack of charges.
Phil Riegle, Hancock County prosecutor, said his office reviewed the case and thought there wasn’t enough evidence to file felony charges.
“They lost a loved one. It’s a terrible thing,” Riegle said Wednesday, calling the incident a “tragedy.”
The city law director’s office, which handles misdemeanors, never filed charges, either.
In a letter sent to Ratliff Law Offices dated Nov. 22, 2017, a Findlay assistant law director, Marshall Finelli, wrote, “This is a case in which it appears that no one was at fault. Because we believe that the state cannot meet its burden of proof, we cannot in good faith pursue a conviction against the defendant.”
City Law Director Don Rasmussen did not immediately reply Wednesday night to an email request for comment.
The DeWeeses are still hoping to have charges filed. Ratliff said Nov. 4 is the two-year statute of limitations on a misdemeanor case. A felony case could possibly be filed up to six years after the accident.
“It’s my daughter,” said Emily DeWeese. “She’s gone. We can’t bring her back.”