Motorist pleads guilty to high-speed chase that started in Willard

Cary Ashby • Nov 13, 2013 at 1:07 PM

A motorist pleaded guilty Tuesday to failing to comply with the order or signal of a police officer during a high-speed chase.

Christian A. Smart, 20, of Dover, faces nine months to three years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 8 in Huron County Common Pleas Court. His driver's license could be suspended from three years to life.

"It appears the defendant has a very minimal criminal record and if that is reflected in the presentence investigation, the state wouldn't be opposed to a community control sanction," Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Woodruff said.

That means Smart, whose record includes several traffic citations, would be on probation and his sentence could include time in the Huron County Jail.

Smart's third-degree felony conviction is for an Aug. 20 incident which involved the Willard, Monroeville and Bellevue police departments.

"It started in Willard," Woodruff said.

A Willard officer saw Smart driving at a high rate of speed and activated his lights and siren.

Smart went eastbound on Ohio 103, where Woodruff said the defendant "picked up speed" and almost caused an accident at the intersection of Ohio 103 and Ohio 598.

Next, the driver went northbound on Ohio 61.

"The officer had trouble keeping up with him," Woodruff said.

Smart drove west on U.S. 20, went through Monroeville and ran the red light at the intersection of U.S. 20 and Ohio 99, he said.

"He was weaving through traffic," the prosecutor added.

In Bellevue, Smart turned right into a cul-de-sac. Woodruff and Huron County Public Defender David Longo said a Bellevue officer drove the other direction and the right side of the vehicle driven by Smart hit the "front ram bar" of the officer's sport utility vehicle. The collision caused minor damage to the SUV.

"He (Smart) indicated to officers the reason he ran was he had been drinking," Woodruff said.

Longo, in response, said if Smart had been an adult at the time he would have tested at "one-quarter of the legal limit." The legal limit for adult drivers in Ohio is .08; it's unknown what Smart's blood-alcohol content level was.

Woodruff opposed having Smart released on a personal recognizance bond because of the seriousness of the charge. The defendant hadn't been able to post a $15,000 bond. Longo argued his client wasn't a "big risk" to not come to his sentencing hearing or the probation department to undergo his pre-sentence investigation because he knows he could face 4 1/2 years in prison. Smart's conviction is punishable by as much as three years in prison.

Judge Jim Conway, who decided to release Smart on a PR bond, reminded the defendant that if he can't get a ride to court, "it's on you."

"If you don't do well (out on bond), you're open to (getting) a prison sentence," Conway said.

As a condition of his bond, Smart is prohibited from operating any motor vehicle. He also can't enter any establishment which serves alcohol.

Recommended for You