After downing eight mixed drinks and nine shots of liquor at a West Toledo bar on Christmas Eve, Adam Tunison made his way to the parking lot where he struggled to locate his extra-large sport utility vehicle.
The LaSalle, Mich. man — who would enter southbound I-75 that night heading north and smash head on into a car driven by Juan Garcia, Jr. — pleaded no contest on Tuesday to aggravated vehicular homicide. He faces up to eight years in prison and a lifetime driver’s license suspension when he is sentenced July 30 by Judge Frederick McDonald in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
“You will go to the penitentiary. The only question is for how long,” the judge told Tunison, 42, before accepting his no contest plea and finding him guilty. “Once you are at the penitentiary, you will not be eligible for any form of early release. You will serve every day of whatever sentence I impose.”
Mr. Garcia, 26, of Toledo was returning home from Midnight Mass when he was killed in the wrong-way crash early Christmas morning.
Michael Bahner, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, told the court Tunison admitted to Toledo police officers who responded to the crash scene that he’d been drinking. He said he’d had “only four drinks” at Chuck’s on Monroe Street and later consented to a blood draw at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.
“Again he stated that he only had a few drinks,” Mr. Bahner said. “…The blood draw showed that his blood-alcohol level at the time of the draw, which was some time after the accident, was 0.21 and [the other draw] was 0.19 , both exceeding substantially the limit of 0.08 in Ohio.”
Tunison, seated in a wheelchair, looked down as Mr. Bahner laid out the other evidence in the case. Sitting in the back of the courtroom, the victim’s mother cried.
Mr. Bahner said investigators with the Ohio Department of Public Safety obtained surveillance video from Chuck’s that showed Tunsion consuming “at least” eight drinks and nine shots between 10:10 p.m. Dec. 24 and 1:18 a.m. Dec. 25. The on-board data computer from Tunison’s Ford Expedition indicated he was driving about 63 mph when he struck Mr. Garcia’s car, “obliterating” it, he said.
Further, Mr. Bahner said, police obtained posts Tunison made on Facebook implicating himself in the deadly chain of events.
“A Facebook post was made by Mr. Tunison and was captured by police in which Mr. Tunison admitted he was intoxicated, admitted he drove the wrong way down the highway, and admitted that he killed a young man,” Mr. Bahner said.
Mr. Garcia’s parents, who were in court for the hearing, declined to comment afterward. In June, Juan Garcia, Sr., as administrator of his son’s estate, filed suit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court against Adam Tunison; Raymond Tunsion of Erie, Mich., who owned the vehicle Adam Tunison was driving; Bimma-Rock Enterprises LLC, which owns Chuck’s on Monroe, and Chuck’s, 4477 Monroe St.
The suit, which seeks $2.5 million in damages, alleges Raymond Tunison allowed Adam Tunison to drive a vehicle knowing he did not have a valid driver’s license and that Chuck’s continued to sell alcoholic beverages to Tunison after he was intoxicated.
Bimma-Rock Enterprises, as the liquor permit holder for Chuck’s, also was cited by the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Investigative Unit for two civil violations: sale of alcohol to an intoxicated person and furnishing alcohol to an intoxicated person, said Raymond Rodriguez, agent-in-charge of the Toledo office. The Ohio Liquor Control Commission will hold a hearing in the matter and could impose a fine or suspend or revoke the bar’s license, he said.
Tunsion has been in the Lucas County jail on $100,000 bond. Judge McDonald revoked that bond Tuesday pending sentencing.
By Jennifer Feehan - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (MCT)
©2013 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)
Visit The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) at www.toledoblade.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services