About Annie

This site is dedicated to Annie Rooney, who was killed by a drunk driver on July 4, 2013 in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Annie, a graduate of Western Reserve Academy, Brown University, and the Lewis and Clark Law School, was just 36 years old.

Below is her obituary, followed by newspaper articles and links that look into the circumstances that permitted this catastrophe as well as information about “Annie’s Law”, Ohio House Bill 469.

 

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As published on July 6, 2013:

Anna Louise Rooney

April 14, 1977 – July 4, 2013

Anna Louise Rooney, always known as Annie, of Chillicothe, Ohio was killed by a drunk driver on on July 4, 2013, at around 9pm.  Annie was travelling home after borrowing a bike for an upcoming race when an oncoming driver crossed into her lane on US Rte 50, just outside of Chillicothe.  Annie’s bikes had been stolen the previous weekend in Columbus, Ohio, outside German Village.

Annie was born in Chillicothe, Ohio on April 14, 1977 to Dr. Richard C. Rooney and Carole Mayer Rooney of Chillicothe, Ohio; Annie was 36 years old.  She graduated from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio in 1995, where she was a star athlete. Annie graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island in 1999 and the Law School of Lewis and Clark in Portland, Oregon in 2007.

Prior to returning home to Chillicothe, Annie was a prosecuting attorney in Bozeman, Montana, where she served her community by aggressively prosecuting domestic violence and DUI cases. She recently opened her own law practice in Chillicothe, Ohio.  A separate Montana memorial service was held for Annie  which can be read about below.

Annie was passionate about adventure and recently began a mountain bike racing career.  She traveled and lived all over the world, including every continent except Antarctica, which was on her list.   She also lived and worked in New York City and San Francisco on various start-up ventures.

Annie was beloved by many for her charm, her sense of humor, her courage, her unique ability to make others feel loved, and her generous smile. Her most memorable characteristic was her boundless energy with unending optimism.  Professionally Annie was a tireless advocate for crime victims and a very successful prosecutor.

Annie was an inspiration to all who knew her.  A recent quote captures her essence: “You wanted to be like her, but you couldn’t figure out how”.

She is survived by her parents, Dr. Richard and Carole Rooney of Chillicothe, Ohio, her sister Kate (Rooney) Lyaker (Dr. Michael Lyaker) of Columbus, Ohio, and her brothers Dr. Craig Rooney (Dr. Angie Song) and Dr. Walt Rooney (Adrienne) of Seattle, Washington, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Thank you all for being her friends.

Please share your photos and experiences of Annie so we will never forget how wonderful she was.

Her Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/annie.rooney.50

 

 

‘Annie’s Law’ pushed to prevent DUIs

National safety chairman touts ignition interlock requirements

July 11, 2014

 

www.NTSB.org:

Acting Chairman Hart was in Ohio this week to speak in support of House Bill 469, known as ‘Annie’s Law’. If passed, Annie’s Law would mandate ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders in Ohio. While there, he met with members of Annie Rooney’s family.

Annie Rooney

‘Annie’s Law’ pushed to prevent DUIs

As published on central ohio.com

COLUMBUS — A proposed law that would require an ignition interlock device for all OVI offenders got a push Thursday from the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Chairman Christopher Hart flew into Columbus to offer support to Annie’s Law, which was inspired by the July 4, 2013, death of Chillicothe attorney Annie Rooney.

“Most Americans think we’ve solved the drunk driving problem. The fact is, we haven’t come close,” Hart said during a news conference at the statehouse.

In 2012, the National Traffic Safety Board recommended that all states adopt legislation to require ignition interlock devices for first-time drunken driving offenders. Ignition interlock devices require a person to exhale into it and it tests the breath for alcohol content. If it is above the device’s programmed limit, it prevents the vehicle from being started.

Annie Rooney was 36 when she was killed in the head-on crash by a woman who had prior drunken driving convictions. Annie’s family thinks that, if all convicted drunken drivers in Ohio were required to use an ignition interlock device, the crash wouldn’t have happened. The family has made it their goal to turn their tragedy into something meaningful.

Annie’s father, Dr. Rick Rooney, thinks Hart personally endorsing the bill is a turning point in the legislation and he, as well as co-sponsors Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, and Gary Scherer, R-Circleville, believe it will be pushed through to law during the lame duck session this fall.

“All the major players, all the organizations have come together in the same room and have expressed their enthusiastic endorsement (of Annie’s Law),” Rooney said. “For (Chris Hart) to come here and endorse this in a personal way, I find incredible.”

Between Hart’s endorsement and the Ohio State Neurosurgical Society’s endorsement, Rick Rooney thinks the Ohio State Medical Association also will back the bill.

Although there are several agencies coming behind the bill, news conference organizers MADD and Nationwide Insurance, Johnson and Rooney said they have had some push back and a lot of questions from the judiciary committee.

The two major issues Rooney said have been raised during MADD’s past attempts to get similar laws in place are views that the device is punishment and that judges are concerned about losing judicial discretion in sentencing. He relates the requirements to those he followed as a surgeon or that pilots follow to ensure public health and safety.

“Annie’s Law is about prevention, safety if you will, not punishing or shaming. … When it’s a safety issue, there shouldn’t be judicial discretion,” Rooney said.

Another concern is the workarounds to the device, such as it’s impossible for the current device to know for a fact the right person is blowing into it.

The device is made to be difficult to use without an hour of training, and it can come with a camera to snap a photo that is downloaded during monthly device checks, said Elizabeth Fink, regional public policy director for interlock company LifeSafer. The device also does random retesting after the vehicle has started.

Johnson acknowledged that the interlock device isn’t a “silver bullet” to removing all drunken drivers from Ohio’s roads, but pointed to statistics that show a reduction in both repeat offenders and reduced fatalities in states where they’ve been made mandatory.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported people using interlock devices were 67 percent less likely to be rearrested for drunken driving than those who only had a license suspension.

Original links:

http://www.newarkadvocate.com/article/20140710/NEWS01/307100025/-Annie-s-Law-pushed-prevent-DUIs

 

 

Representative Johnson and Scherer speak at Annie’s Law Press Conference.

July 10, 2014.

 

 

COLUMBUS—State Representatives Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) and Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) today held a press conference to discuss House Bill 469, also known as Annie’s Law, which works to prevent drunk driving re-arrests through the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs).

 

Annie’s Law, introduced in March, is sponsored by Representative Johnson and it would expand the use of ignition interlocks for first-time offenders, with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater, who seek driving privileges during a license suspension for a period of six months. Drivers must breathe into the breathalyzer system before attempting to drive in order to check blood-alcohol concentration. The goal of the legislation is to decrease drunk driving re-arrest rates in the state and in turn reduce alcohol-related traffic accidents and fatalities.

 

The legislation is named after Annie Rooney, Representative Scherer’s constituent, who was killed by a drunk driver on July 4, 2013. Annie was travelling home when a drunken driver crossed into her lane on U.S. Route 50. Annie was 36-years-old and had served as a prosecuting attorney, even recently opening her own practice in Chillicothe.

 

“Annie lived a meaningful life. Although this legislation does not bring her back, it can make a meaningful and beneficial change in Ohio that Annie would be proud of,” Rep. Scherer said.

 

“Sadly stories similar to Annie happen far too often, “ Rep. Johnson said. “With this legislation in her name we have the opportunity to make Ohio’s roads a safer place to travel on.”

 

Additional participants in the press conference included Christopher Hart, Acting Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Doug Scoles, MADD Ohio State Executive Director, William “Bill” Windsor of Nationwide Insurance and Dr. Richard Rooney, Annie’s father.

Link here: http://www.ohiohouse.gov/terry-johnson/press/reps-johnson-and-scherer-discuss-annies-law-in-press-conference

 

 

jison@centralohio.com Twitter: @JonaIson

Ohio bill aims to curb drunken driving with ignition interlock

 

The Columbus Dispatch

By Jim Siegel
The Columbus Dispatch
Monday July 14, 2014 5:41 AM
A bill requiring first-time DUI offenders in Ohio to use an ignition interlock device on their vehicles should see legislative action this fall.

Current law allows judges to order use of the ignition interlocks, which require drivers to blow into a device that measures blood-alcohol levels before starting a vehicle. House Bill 469 would make it mandatory for first-time offenders, same as is now required for those convicted of DUI twice in six years.

Supporters, including the National Transportation Safety Board, gathered last week to encourage action on the bill, which would make Ohio the 23rd state to require the devices for first-time offenders. They call it a better option than a license suspension that is all too often ignored by violators.

Two decades of research has found that the devices reduce recidivism among DUI offenders by up to 75 percent, said Christopher Hart, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The bill has had a few committee hearings, and Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, a joint sponsor, said he is disappointed it did not pass before the summer break. But movement could come quickly when lawmakers return this fall.

“This is a great bill,” said Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, adding he’s optimistic the committee will move it. “Some members of the committee have concerns, and I’ve been meeting with them and will continue throughout the summer to arrive at a place where everybody is comfortable.”

The devices would be used for first-time DUI offenders instead of prohibiting them from driving for 15 days and then obtaining limited driving privileges for work, school and medical appointments.

Jon Saia, a Columbus defense attorney specializing in DUI cases, likes that part of the bill. But he thinks the legislation has a problem in that it would allow judges to impose ignition locks when a defendant charged with DUI ultimately pleads to a reduced charge.

And if a defendant is facing the possibility of paying $80 a month for the ignition lock device over six to 12 months even with a reduced charge, Saia thinks it will push more cases to trial.

Asked about concerns, Johnson said the bill would save lives.

“You can think something as complicated as this bill and what it will do into the ground…and lose sight of the simplicity of what it actually does,” he said.

Rep. Michael Stinziano, D-Columbus, the committee’s top-ranking Democrat, backs the bill but acknowledges there are due process concerns that may require some changes.

“The safety outweighs the due process for me,” Stinziano said. “I continue to look to other states where it’s been successful.”

The roughly $80-a-month cost of the device covers the cost of calibration. Saia also questions how much it would cost the state’s indigent defense fund for low-income defendants, though the state would qualify for a $688,000 federal grant to help pay for the law.

A driver must register a blood-alcohol content of less than .025 — less than half the .08 limit at which one is considered too intoxicated to drive — to turn the ignition.

The legislation has been named “Annie’s Law,” for 36-year-old Annie Rooney of Chillicothe, a prosecuting attorney who was killed in July 2013 by a drunken driver who had been arrested three times, with one conviction for DUI and two plea deals for lesser charges.

Her father, Dr. Richard Rooney, has pushed hard for the bill in an effort, he said, to ensure that his daughter did not die in vain. He points to statistics showing that as usage of ignition devices has risen, DUI fatalities have fallen.

“Our lives were shattered,” he said. “Annie’s memory has moved us to strengthen the law.”

jsiegel@dispatch.com

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/07/13/DUI_ignition.html

 

 

 

 

 

All Drunken Drivers May Be Subject to In-Car Breathalyzer

By Randy Ludlow

As Published in:

The Columbus DispatchSaturday June 14, 2014 3:12 PM

Ohio lawmakers are considering requiring first-time drunken-driving offenders to have an ignition breathalyzer installed on their cars to confirm their sobriety during a six-month penalty period.

The law now allows judges to order the ignition interlocks, but the House bill would make their use mandatory. Offenders convicted twice within six years must use the devices.The bill sponsor, Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, cites federal figures that ignition-interlock devices reduce DUI re-arrest rates by 67 percent. About 25,000 first-time offenders are convicted each year in Ohio.The devices would replace a system in which first-time DUI offenders are not allowed to drive for 15 days and then can obtain limited driving privileges to travel to work, school and medical appointments.“There is nothing to ensure compliance and nothing to ensure sobriety unless they happen to get caught again,” Johnson said. “This allows the offender to continue working and to minimize disruption to his life while ensuring public safety to the extent we are reasonably able to do so.”A change in the bill last week also would require those charged with DUI but convicted of lesser offenses, such as physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated, to install the machines in their cars.Motorists convicted of DUI would lease the interlock devices, which cost $70 to $150 to install. A $60 to $90 monthly fee includes downloading data to see if a failed breath test prevented the car from starting.Indigent drivers would be eligible for a free or discounted device from county alcohol-treatment funds.Only about 5,000 Ohioans, including repeat DUI offenders, are required each year to use ignition interlocks, said Doug Scoles, executive director of Ohio MADD.Twenty states now require their use by first-time offenders. “Requiring the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers will help prevent repeat offenses and, in so doing, save lives,” Scoles said.The State Highway Patrol reports 341 people died in drunken-driving crashes last year. Seventy-seven people have been killed so far this year, 38 fewer that at the same time in 2012.The bill is dubbed “Annie’s Law” in memory of Chillicothe lawyer Annie Rooney, who was killed last year by a drunken driver now serving eight years in prison. Her family has campaigned for passage of the bill.

Lara Baker-Morrish, chief prosecutor for the city of Columbus, calls the legislation “a very good idea.”

“It does curb the behavior we’re trying to get at, and it has been proven to save lives,” she said.

Courts would have to find ways to monitor the increase in ignition-interlock reports on drivers and find funding to ensure devices are made available to those who can’t afford installation and monitoring, she said.

rludlow@dispatch.com

@RandyLudlow

Pubished June 4, 2014:

Annie’s Law won’t see vote until after Nov. election

Changes would expand breath-testing device in vehicles
By Jessie Balmert
CentralOhio.com June 4, 2014

Gannett News Service

Changes to a bill that would require breath-testing devices on certain drunken drivers’ vehicles made the proposal more strict but also delayed a vote until after the Nov. 4 election.

As introduced earlier this year, the bill would require ignition interlock devices be installed for first-time operating a vehicle while under the influence offenders. The devices require drivers to blow into a breath-tester, which calculates blood-alcohol concentration, and will prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver tests higher than the preset limit, usually 0.025.

People using ignition interlock devices were about 67 percent less likely to be rearrested than drivers with suspended licenses, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention review of 15 studies.

The devices are a deterrent for the more than 50 percent of convicted drunken drivers who continue to drive even with suspended licenses, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Current state law requires devices be installed for repeat drunken drivers. If approved, the bill would bring Ohio’s law in line with 22 other states, according to MADD.

Changes approved by committee Tuesday would require ignition interlock devices for people arrested on a charge of operating a vehicle while under the influence while they await trial. A judge also could request a device for people who received plea deals for lesser offenses, such as reckless operation, if the judge believed the person would be at risk of another operating a vehicle while under the influence charge.

The judiciary committee accepted the changes Tuesday but will not vote on the bill before the Ohio House of Representatives’ summer break, said Steven Alexander, legislative aide for the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott. That means the bill won’t see action until after the Nov. 4 election.

The proposed legislation is called Annie’s Law in memory of 36-year-old Annie Rooney, a Chillicothe attorney who died after a head-on collision with a drunken driver on July 4, 2013. The drunken driver, Shira Seymour, was sentenced to the maximum eight years in prison for Rooney’s death.

http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/print/article/20140604/NEWS01/306040040/Annie-s-Law-won-t-see-vote-until-after-Nov-election

Published May 31, 2014

in the Columbus Dispatch:

Law will help stop repeat OVI drivers

The May 11 Dispatch article “Repeat OVI arrests still can end in plea deal” (see link immediately below) painted a profound picture of the need for strengthened drunken-driving laws in Ohio.

As the grieving father of Annie Rooney, who was killed by a drunken driver on July 4, 2013 in Chillicothe, I find it to be outrageous that hard-core criminals are let free while I mourn.

My daughter’s killer had a record extending back to 1999 of repeated arrests for OVI, almost all of which were pled down.

Annie was a vibrant 36-year-old who had been a prosecutor in Bozeman, Mont.

She had moved back to Ohio two years earlier to be closer to our family.

Annie was a gifted academic and athlete whose charisma had touched almost a thousand lives, and her loss has been catastrophic for our family and her friends.

We have worked for the past year to prevent further loss of life, suffering and the devastation that our family has had to shoulder. Our family is dedicated to changing the law so that another innocent person is not taken in such a reckless, preventable way.

We are pushing to get tougher legislation passed to reduce the number of drunken-driving deaths on Ohio’s road.

Joining forces with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), AAA, Nationwide and others, we are asking that all convicted drunken drivers, including first-time offenders, be required to install an ignition interlock on their vehicle if they want driving privileges.

This legislation, which we named Annie’s Law, addresses the problem of repeat offenders.

The use of ignition interlocks cuts recidivism by more than 67 percent and is more effective than license suspension. Similar legislation in 22 other states has been followed by a significant reduction in drunken-driving deaths.

The research is overwhelming that early intervention with an ignition-interlock device drastically reduces deaths.

One life lost is too many and in 2012, 385 of our neighbors in Ohio were killed in crashes involving drunken drivers, representing 34 percent of the traffic fatalities.

No father should feel such pain. Annie’s Law will protect the public and teach sober driving.

RICK ROONEY

Chillicothe

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2014/05/31/law-will-help-stop-repeat-ovi-drivers.html#comment

 

 Repeated OVI arrests still can end in plea deal

See link below for text and graphics of Columbus Dispatch article, 5/11/14

By John Futty &Jennifer Smith RichardsThe Columbus DispatchSunday May 11, 2014 5:25 Am

Sam Greene | DISPATCH
Franklin County Deputy Sheriff Robert McKee checks the license and registration of a driver at a drunken-driving checkpoint near W. Broad Street and Norton Road in Prairie Township. The activity was on Friday night.

Some people are accused — and even convicted — of driving drunk over and over yet still are able to plead guilty to a lesser charge when they’re before a judge yet again.The effect: Even people who prosecutors believe are chronic drunken drivers avoid piling up enough misdemeanor convictions for operating a vehicle while impaired to be hit with a felony charge.So they avoid the possibility of prison time and a lifetime suspension of their driver’s license. Some avoid or delay being placed on the state’s list of habitual drunken drivers.A Dispatch analysis of 11 years of charges in Franklin County Municipal Court found that people with recent drunken-driving arrests pleaded guilty to amended charges nearly as often as people with no recent drunken-driving history.The data show that even people who have been charged with OVI five, six or seven times in the past decade were able to take a plea deal that resulted in less-serious charges. On average in recent years, nearly 1 in 5 of all OVI cases in the county ended with a plea deal.Police arrested a Columbus woman three times on impaired-driving charges in 2012. Even though Katrina M. Delpercio already had two OVI convictions, two of her 2012 charges were reduced through plea deals. Had she been convicted of either of those OVI charges, she would have been labeled a felon.Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys are surprised by how often people with past impaired-driving arrests or convictions get reductions on new OVI cases. It boils down to whether prosecutors think they have enough evidence.“Every single case has to be tried on its own facts,” said Lara Baker-Morrish, the city’s chief prosecutor. “Not all arrests are equal. Some cases are very strong; some are weak.”It appears that most are strong. About 80 percent of the roughly 6,000 OVI cases in Franklin County each year result in OVI convictions. Those cases are almost always resolved with a guilty plea to the original charge. The city attorney’s office took only 16 OVI cases to jury trials last year.Even defendants who plead guilty to a reduced charge often receive a sentence that includes the minimum penalties for an OVI conviction: three days in a driver-intervention program, a $375 fine plus court costs and a six-month license suspension. Most are given driving privileges for work, school or treatment programs.

The city attorney’s office typically insists on those penalties as part of plea agreements for reductions.

Even someone like William L. Howell, a Delaware resident who was convicted of four OVIs between 1994 and 2003, can cut a deal on OVI arrest No. 5. And he did, pleading guilty to reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

In 2005, a Franklin County judge sentenced Howell to probation and banned him from driving for almost a year. That allowed him to keep driving, after his license suspension ended, for six more years before he got two more OVI convictions.

Howell is in prison now and labeled one of the state’s habitual drunken drivers.

City prosecutors began tracking the reason for their OVI plea deals on Feb. 1 in an effort to gather more information about the outcomes of cases of drug-impaired driving. Since then, they’ve closed about 1,000 OVI cases. More than 30 percent of the defendants had been convicted of OVI before.

Each of the 15 municipal-court judges routinely accepts the guilty pleas and sentencing recommendations.

Judge Carrie E. Glaeden said prosecutors arrange the plea deals, and judges usually don’t know why a reduction was offered.

“I take prosecutors at their word,” she said. “If they don’t think they can make a case, I don’t ask why. They know how strong their evidence is and whether a case merits a reduction or not.”

Defense attorneys who specialize in OVI cases say poor police work, including improperly conducted field-sobriety or breath-alcohol tests, leads to reductions.

But another factor appears to have an even bigger effect: It is increasingly common for drivers to refuse to submit to breath, urine or blood tests. Without such a test, prosecutors are left to pursue an OVI charge without a key piece of evidence: the level of alcohol in the driver’s system.

In 2009, defendants refused chemical tests in 36 percent of the cases handled by city prosecutors. In 2013, it was 41 percent.

Since February, city prosecutors have reduced charges in about 215 cases. In 61 percent of those cases, the defendant had refused the tests, according to a Dispatch analysis of the prosecutors’ case data.

“I hate refusals,” Baker-Morrish said. “Our job is to build a brick wall, piece by piece. The defense’s job is to put a hole in the wall. With a refusal, you walk in there with a hole in the wall.”

Some defendants use the tactic as a way to plead guilty to lesser charges over and over.

Take Bennie Fornash, a 38-year-old Lewis Center resident. He has never been convicted of OVI.

But he was arrested and charged with impaired driving four times in Franklin County between 2005 and 2013. He was pulled over early in the morning at least twice after police said he was speeding (80 mph in a 45 mph zone, for example) and once for veering left of center.

Fornash refused the breath test in each of his past three cases. The case file is no longer available for the 2005 arrest. But in all four cases, the OVI charge was reduced to physical control of a vehicle while impaired or to reckless operation of a vehicle.

Fornash, through Sam Shamansky, his attorney, declined to comment.

Shamansky would not discuss the specifics of Fornash’s reductions but said, in general, that defendants who have a previous drunken-driving arrest “have a greater understanding about exercising their constitutional rights.”

Those who have been through the system are more likely “not to incriminate themselves by doing a bunch of ridiculous stunts by the side of the road that are all designed for failure, and not to submit to a chemical test,” Shamansky said.

Nothing in Ohio law requires drivers to submit to field sobriety tests — a series of physical tasks that include a one-legged stand and an eye test known as the horizontal gaze nystagmus. But the state legislature has created penalties for refusing to take the breath, urine or blood test.

In some cases when a driver refuses to take a test, particularly when the driver is involved in a fatal or potentially fatal crash, the arresting officer will obtain a warrant from a judge for a blood sample.

For a driver who has never been convicted of OVI, refusing to take a chemical test results in an automatic one-year license suspension.

If the driver submits to the breath test and his or her blood-alcohol level is at or above 0.08 percent, the result is a 90-day license suspension.

Arresting officers are required to explain this to drivers.

“What they don’t tell you is, if you’re convicted of OVI, there is a mandatory license suspension of six months to three years,” said Columbus defense attorney Daniel Sabol. “The 90-day benefit goes away. By wanting to have only a 90-day suspension, you’re giving the government the evidence they need to suspend your license for at least six months.”

Ultimately, the length of the license suspension can be increased or reduced through an agreement between the prosecution and defense, Sabol said.

For drivers with an OVI conviction in the previous 20 years, refusing to take the breath test is treated as a separate offense with a penalty that includes three days in jail. But they can’t be convicted of that secondary offense unless they are convicted of OVI.

In the 1,000 cases that Columbus prosecutors closed since February, they still managed to get OVI convictions of about half the defendants who refused the chemical tests.

Without a chemical test, it becomes a game of chess between prosecutors and defense attorneys. Prosecutors look to the other evidence: field sobriety tests, police officers’ reports about the arrestee’s appearance or behavior, and statements captured on a cruiser’s video and audio systems.

Defense attorneys try to poke holes in that evidence, jockeying for a plea deal.

Video can be “a beautiful thing” for a defense attorney hoping to get a reduction for a client, Sabol said. “You wouldn’t believe how often the video shows something not in the police report or that contradicts the police report.”

Jon Saia, another Columbus lawyer who specializes in OVI defense, said cruiser video “is so favorable to the defense it’s unbelievable.”

Sabol and Saia said mistakes by arresting officers, often captured on video, lead to reduced charges for many of their clients.

Both lawyers are trained as field sobriety-test instructors and in operating Ohio’s most-common breath-alcohol machine. They look for problems with how those tests are administered, which can lead judges to suppress evidence.

Saia estimated that he has reviewed as many as 1,000 videos of field sobriety tests.

“Never, not one single time, have I seen it done correctly,” he said.

All Columbus police officers take a 32-hour course in OVI enforcement that is required by the state, said Sgt. Michael Smith, who supervises training for impaired-driver enforcement for the Police Division. Additional courses are available for officers who want to develop a specialty in OVI enforcement.

“I would agree that, in the Columbus Division of Police, there are officers who have more training and are more proficient than their peers,” Smith said.

He disputes the notion that cruiser videos reveal that officers intentionally exaggerated or embellished signs of impairment in their written reports.

“The defense attorneys get the benefit of frame-by-frame dissection of something that happened to an officer in real time,” he said. “The officers’ perceptions are based on what’s going on in real time.”

Hiring an attorney isn’t required for those charged with drunken driving, but it’s a good idea, Franklin County Municipal Judge Anne Taylor said.

She frequently handles guilty pleas in arraignment court from OVI defendants representing themselves. In her 22 years on the bench, Taylor has seen the difference a good lawyer can make in an OVI case.

“There is a role for advocacy,” she said. “If you’re represented by someone who is not as persuasive, not as skilled, you probably won’t have as favorable an outcome.”

Defense attorneys who help clients get OVI charges reduced shouldn’t be portrayed as contributing to the problem of drunken driving, Sabol said. “We’re protecting the Constitution. We want law enforcement doing their jobs properly, and we want equipment that works. We don’t want officers cutting corners, denying people their rights or using faulty equipment.

“People complain about someone getting off on a technicality, but that’s called the Constitution of the United States of America.”

 

jfutty@dispatch.com

jsmithrichards@dispatch.com

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/05/11/repeated-ovi-arrests-still-can-end-in-plea-deal.html

 

As Published April 25, 2014:

Annie’s Law: Family pushes for tougher OVI law

Updated: Friday, April 25 2014, 06:34 AM EDT

By Joe Webb

CBS News, Cincinnati, Ohio
CINCINNATI (WKRC) — Every year nearly 10,000 Americans are killed in alcohol-related car crashes, nearly 500 of those are Ohioans.

Despite tougher OVI laws, zero tolerance and harsh sentences, people still drive drunk. And people who get caught driving drunk, often do it again. Now, one Ohio family is pushing a tough new law that will make it harder for repeat drunk drivers to get behind the wheel.

On July 4th last year, 36-year-old Annie Rooney was driving on US-50 near Chillicothe when repeat OVI offender Shira Seymour crossed the center line and hit her.

Rooney died the next day.

Seymour is serving 8 years for aggravated vehicular homicide. It seems like another sad story with a tragic ending. But this story is far from over. Annie Rooney, an accomplished athlete and attorney, comes from a family of athletes who grew up to be attorneys and doctors. Last July, they became fighters.

Carole Rooney, Annie’s mother, said, “We’ve lost Annie but we don’t want anybody else to lose their children or their husband or their wife or their mother.”

Dr. Rick Rooney, Annie’s father, said, “We came here today, to be blunt about it, in an attempt to stop the killing and stop the dying.”

The Rooneys have taken the fight to Columbus with House Bill 469, also known as “Annie’s Law.” It would require ignition interlocks on cars for first time OVI offenders. Simply put, convicted drunk drivers in Ohio would have to pass a self-administered breathalyzer test before their car would start. This is not just a mother and father against drunk driving. The Rooney family has been at every hearing in Columbus, pushing Annie’s Law forward.

Kate Rooney Lyaker, Annie’s sister, said, “We know that it can happen and we want to stop it from happening. 400 people a year are being killed by drunk drivers in Ohio. Every year and we know we can reduce that rate significantly by changing the law.”

Dr. Walt Rooney, Annie’s brother, said, “It’s just a horrific public health plague that we just can’t believe we haven’t stopped yet and that’s why we’re here.”

The bill was introduced in March. Currently, Ohio law allows interlocks after a second offense. Right now, 20 states require ignition interlocks for first-time offenders. Interlocks could cut down on drunk people getting behind the wheel. Most years, about a third of all OVI arrests are repeat offenders. Many argue that safety would be better served if driving privileges were just taken away. But Triple-A estimates that more than half the drunk drivers whose licenses are suspended or revoked (somewhere between 50 and 75 percent of them) continue to drive without a license. Sometimes, they drive drunk.

The ignition interlock is about the size of a 1990′s cellphone and easily installed. One of the largest manufacturers, LifeSafer, is based in Blue Ash. Under Annie’s Law, the OVI offender would pay for the installation.

“It’s typically about $2.50 a day for somebody to have it installed. It’s less than if you go out and have a drink at a bar, certainly,” said Elizabeth Fink of LifeSafer Inc.

No organized opposition has surfaced in the legislature but the bill is still a long way from a vote, much less becoming law. But it has some heavyweight support in Ohio Triple-A and MADD.

“We’re hoping that we don’t continue to see first time offenders become repeat offenders. And we feel with Annie’s Law, we can see that,” Rachel Babich said of southwest Ohio MADD.

Annie Rooney spent most of her legal career prosecuting domestic violence cases. Her family says she was a fighter who fought for people who didn’t feel they had a voice. That’s why her family keeps suiting up and showing up, with no plans to shut up.

Her mother tells Local 12′s Joe Webb, “I think we’re doing what Annie can’t do. I think Annie would be right behind us pushing us and fighting for this law just like we’re doing.”

Dr. Rick Rooney says the sponsors of Annie’s Law are tweaking some technical language in the bill. He hopes it makes it out of committee next week.

Link with video here:
http://www.local12.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/annies-law-family-pushes-tougher-ovi-law-10854.shtml
As Published April 24, 2014:

Rooney hopes daughter’s legacy saves students

Gannett News Service
Written by David Berman
Gazette Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Flanked by photos of his late daughter and her crumpled SUV, Richard Rooney plumbed the depths of his family’s despair Wednesday.Rooney recalled the night his daughter, Annie, was fatally injured in a head-on crash with a drunken driver on U.S. 50 outside of Chillicothe. His audience — Chillicothe High School juniors and seniors just days away from their prom — sat in stunned silence in the high school auditorium as he spared few details about her death and the devastation it wrought.“I stand before you the grieving father of Annie Rooney,” he said. “My plea is that the killing and dying must stop.”The 36-year-old Rooney was returning home from a friend’s house July 4, 2013, when her Lincoln Navigator was struck by a drunken driver who was traveling at an estimated 80 mph and whose blood alcohol content was about twice the legal limit. Her father, meanwhile, was taking part in a Bible study group.“Little did I know, my daughter was three miles away, dying in a crushed car,” he said.Rooney said he and his wife rushed to the hospital to find Annie “barely clinging to life.” They rode with her in an ambulance from Adena Medical Center to Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, but her injuries were too severe, the time she spent trapped in her vehicle too prolonged. At 1:30 a.m., some four and a half hours after the crash, her heart stopped.A retired surgeon, Richard Rooney had held hundreds of lives in his hands and saved many of them, but there was nothing he could do for his daughter.“This was the worst experience I’d ever had, but the worst was yet to come,” he said.Rooney’s grandchildren arrived the next day for what was supposed to be a three-week visit with their aunt Annie as the star attraction. When he told his 11-year-old grandson what happened to his beloved aunt, the boy collapsed to the kitchen floor and sobbed.Annie’s death has been “a catastrophic tragedy for the family” — “a nightmare that won’t go away,” he said.Her bedroom and office remain undisturbed with her personal effects in “cluttered, unsorted piles.” Every morning, Rooney said he has to confront the reality that she’s gone.“For a long time, all I wanted to do was get in the grave with her, as if I could talk to her,” he said.As the Rooneys continue to grapple with their loss, they have turned to political activism in an effort to prevent other families from experiencing what they’ve gone through.They are pushing for a law — Annie’s Law — that would require all OVI offenders, including first-time offenders, to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. A vehicle outfitted with an ignition interlock device will not start if it detects alcohol on the driver’s breath.Rooney likened traumatic drunken driving deaths to diseases such as small pox or polio.“Preventing it is much cheaper, simpler and safer than treating the consequences,” he said.Rooney said the bill is on the cusp of being passed by the Ohio House of Representatives. He urged the students to write lawmakers in support of the legislation.“I’m not here only to tell my story, but to ask for your help,” he said.
http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20140423/NEWS01/304230031/Rooney-hopes-daughter-s-legacy-saves-students?nclick_check=1

‘Annie’s Law’ lobbying begins

Bill sponsor testifies at House hearing

Mar. 20, 2014   |
Gannett News Service
Annie Rooney

Annie Rooney

Written by
 The Gazette staff
COLUMBUS — Discussion on a proposed law named for a local attorney killed in a drunk driving crash began Wednesday and will continue today as Mothers Against Drunk Driving representatives meet with lawmakers.

One of the sponsors for Annie’s Law, House Bill 469, Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, offered testimony during an initial judiciary hearing at the state House of Representatives, outlining a need for an increased use of ignition interlock devices for all drunken drivers. He noted that the National Transportation Safety Board recommends it.

“Part of the reason we introduced this bill is because we do not believe enough first-time offenders are required to use this device. According to the Newark Advocate, in 2013, the Ohio Highway Patrol cited more than 24,000 people with operating a vehicle while under the influence, but only 2,407 people were using ignition interlock devices in July. Frankly, this is far too few,” Johnson said.

Johnson noted that the Centers for Disease Control has reported the device, which requires a driver to breathe into it before the car will start, has been effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses. Currently, 20 states, including West Virginia, require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.

“House Bill 469 will eliminate the 15-day hard suspension and replace the needlessly complex and unenforceable system of regulating who can drive when and where by implementing a simpler system where an offender can drive anywhere anytime so long as they use the IID. This allows the offender to continue working and to minimize disruption to his life while ensuring public safety to the extent that we are reasonably able to do so. In short, it’s the best of both worlds,” he said.

The bill is the result of efforts started by Annie Rooney’s family, especially her siblings, that began soon after the July 4 crash that killed her. The family connected with MADD as part of its efforts and Johnson, a family friend, as it sought sponsors for the legislation, which also is sponsored by Rep. Gary Scherer, R-Circleville.

“Annie’s entire family is focused on preventing another family from going through this senseless, preventable, loss of life on our roads,” said Walt Rooney, Annie’s brother. “Drunk drivers kill hundreds of Ohioians every year just like Annie, and we must do more to stop them. Drunk driving is a public health crisis and we are focused on standing with our legislators to have Ohio join the over 20 states that have made ignition interlocks mandatory for first time offenders.”

http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20140319/NEWS01/303190025/-Annie-s-Law-lobbying-begins

Sponsor Testimony to the Ohio House of Representatives Judiciary Committee

19 March, 2014

21 March, 2014

Yesterday, Wednesday 19 March 2014, I was delighted to give sponsor testimony before the Ohio House Judiciary Committee on what I hope will someday soon be known as Annie’s Law. Here is the testimony that I provided:

Chairman Butler, Vice-Chair Pelanda, Ranking Member Stinziano, and members of the House Judiciary Committee: thank you for the opportunity to present sponsor testimony on House Bill 469, Annie’s Law. Annie’s Law requires that first time OVI offenders be required to use an ignition interlock device for the 6 month period of their suspension. Under current law this is permissive; the sentencing judge may require the offender to use the ignition interlock device (IID) if he or she deems it appropriate. Under this bill, all offenders will be using this device. Once they are arrested and charged, they will be required to use the IID in order to legally drive. This will be in effect throughout their trial, and if convicted, they will have to continue to use the IID throughout their suspension.

Part of the reason we introduced this bill is because we do not believe enough first time offenders are required to use this device. According to the Newark Advocate, in 2013, the Ohio Highway Patrol cited more than 24,000 people with operating a vehicle while under the influence, but only 2,407 people were using ignition interlock devices in July. Frankly, this is far too few. In December of 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that states “require ignition interlocks for all DWI offenders.” They also cited that only one in four offenders have one installed. On top of that, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, between 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive on a suspended license. We need to do something about this.

Our current laws contain an ineffective system of limited driving privileges. The offender first has a period of 15 days where he or she cannot drive at all. Then he or she can obtain limited driving privileges from the judge to go to certain places such as class, work, and doctor’s appointments but only at certain times. There is nothing to ensure compliance and nothing to ensure sobriety unless they happen to get caught again. By contrast, the Center for Disease Control found that ignition interlocks are effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent. House Bill 469 will eliminate the 15 day hard suspension and replace the needlessly complex and unenforceable system of regulating who can drive when and where by implementing a simpler system where an offender can drive anywhere anytime so long as they use the IID. This allows the offender to continue working and to minimize disruption to his life while ensuring public safety to the extent that we are reasonably able to do so. In short, it’s the best of both worlds.

This bill is dedicated to a wonderful young lady who was taken from us far too soon. Annie Rooney was the model citizen; she graduated from Brown University before going to law school. She then was a prosecuting attorney in Bozeman, Montana where she aggressively prosecuted domestic violence while serving as the Assistant Music Director for a local radio station. She then moved back to her hometown of Chillicothe to open her own law practice. She was killed by a drunk driver on July 5th of last year. Since then, her family has worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving in their cause to reduce the number of casualties to this horrible tragedy that occurs far too often. This issue is the most glaringly needed change to Ohio’s OVI laws which is why this effort and this bill is in her honor and her memory. We would ask you all for your support.

Once again, Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of Annie’s Law, HB 469. We would be happy to answer any questions.

Annie R 04

As seen on NBC News, March 19,2014:

Ohio family presents law honoring woman killed by drunk  driver

Law adds mandatory ignition device to all DUI offender’s  cars

 6:06 PM EST Mar 07,  2014
As aired on NBC News:
Family presents Annie’s Law honoring woman killed by drunk driver

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio —An Ohio family is on a mission to get the vehicles of all DUI offenders  changed in an effort to save lives.

Eight months ago Annie Rooney was killed by a drunk driver in Chillicothe.

At the time of the accident the driver’s blood alcohol level was twice the  legal limit.

The driver had been arrested at least 5 times before for driving drunk. She was  sentenced to eight years in prison in February for Rooney’s death.

Rooney’s family is pushing the state to adopt Annie’s Law, which would  require an interlock ignition device on the vehicles of all DUI offenders.

The device would prevent the car engine from starting if the driver fails a  Breathalyzer test.

The Rooney family was in Cincinnati on Thursday as lawmakers discussed the  bill.

“It’s really the only thing that keeps our family going during this dark  time. Without our vision and our hope that this could save other people, the  grief and the horror we’ve been through, I don’t think we could cope,” Annie’s  brother Walt Rooney said.

“Everybody has an Annie. Everybody has a son, a daughter, a brother a sister,  a mom and dad.”

The current law allows a judge to require drunk drivers to use an ignition  interlock device, but Annie’s Law would make it mandatory even for first-time  offenders.

Please see story on Video in link:

Read more: http://www.wlwt.com/news/ohio-family-presents-annies-law-in-honor-of-daughter/24845406#ixzz2vrrJFLlb

 

Bill requires breath-test device for first-time OVI offenders

Rooney family a driving force behind proposed change

Mar. 7, 2014   |
Written by Jessie Balmert

The family of a beloved Chillicothe attorney killed by a drunken driver wants everyone convicted of driving impaired to have their breath tested before they drive.

Ohio law requires ignition interlock devices for repeat drunken drivers, but the family of Annie Rooney wants the device installed for first-time offenders as well. The device requires drivers to blow into a breathalyzer, which calculates blood-alcohol concentration, and will prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver tests higher than the preset limit, usually 0.025 BAC.

“It’s like having an electronic probation officer in the front seat,” said Doug Scoles, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Ohio.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, and Rep. Gary Scherer, R-Circleville, on Thursday, is called Annie’s Law in memory of 36-year-old Annie Rooney, who died after colliding with drunken driver Shira Seymour on July 4 in Ross County. Last month, Seymour was sentenced to the maximum eight years in prison for Rooney’s death.

“This is an incremental step that will save lives,” said Annie’s father, Rick Rooney. “We’ve worked very hard to move it forward.”

The Rooneys have worked with legislators, including family friend Terry Johnson, to craft the bill since last fall. The proposed language would allow convicted drunken drivers to choose between using the ignition interlock device or not driving during their six-month suspension, Scoles said.

Judges also could require ignition interlock devices for people seeking driving privileges while awaiting trial, Scoles said. The bill would remove the mandatory 15-day license suspension for people who use ignition interlock devices.

Offenders would rent the devices for about $2.50 a day or $500 for a six-month probation, said Frank Harris, MADD’s state legislative affairs manager. People who can’t afford the fee could have it paid through the indigent fund, which contains fees from people convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence.

MADD officials hope the incentive of driving, even with a device, will outweigh a suspended license. The device teaches people with alcohol problems how to drive responsibly, Scoles said.

The devices are not easily tricked. Many have cameras to record who is blowing into the device and require additional tests after the vehicle is started, Harris said.

Probation officers, who are in charge of monitoring the devices, support the effort to reduce drunken driving, but are concerned about the added work of overseeing more devices, checking equipment and investigating additional violations, said Craig Barry, president of the Ohio Chief Probation Officers Association.

Last year, the Ohio Highway Patrol cited more than 24,000 people with operating a vehicle while under the influence, but only 2,407 individuals were using ignition interlock devices in July. If devices are used for first-time offenders, those numbers could skyrocket.

Another concern is whether county indigent funds would have enough money to pay for all first-time offenders who cannot afford the device, Barry said.

Tim Huey, a Columbus attorney who specializes in OVI defense, said the expense for drivers will far outweigh the benefit of catching people who are unlikely to reoffend during the six-month probation. The devices can be prone to malfunction as well, he said.

“It’s an awful lot of cost and inconvenience for the window of opportunity for it to work,” Huey said.

However, people using ignition interlock devices were about 67 percent less likely to be rearrested than drivers with suspended licenses, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention review of 15 studies. The devices are a deterrent for the more than 50 percent of convicted drunk drivers who continue to drive even with suspended licenses, according to MADD.

“So many go out and drive anyway,” Rick Rooney said. “We view this as a public health catastrophe.”

In December, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advised states to adopt its model on ignition interlock devices, which included use for first-time offenders.

Twenty states allow ignition interlock devices for first-time drunk drivers, according to MADD. Another 14 states require devices for first-time offenders with a blood-alcohol concentration ranging from 0.1 to 0.18. Michigan requires devices for people with a high BAC and Indiana recently proposed a law similar to Annie’s Law, Harris said.

“Ohio is getting a little behind the ball by having a completely optional law,” Harris said.

Making Ohio roads a little safer will help the Rooney family honor their daughter, who was universally liked and respected,  Scherer said.

“This is a small way for us to remember her and help have some little bit of good come out of this tragedy,” he said.

jbalmert@centralohio.com 740-328-8548 Twitter: @jbalmert

 

Annie’s Law Aims To Limit Drunk Driving Deaths In Ohio

By Chuck Strickler
CBS News, Channel 10, Columbus
Tuesday March 4, 2014 6:57 PM
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Legislation is moving forward that supporters say could drastically cut the number of drunk driving deaths in the state of Ohio.It’s called Annie’s Law, named after a young, local attorney who was tragically killed by a drunk driver last July.“That’s what really the thrust and purpose of our efforts are – to stop the killing and stop the dying,” said Rick Rooney, Annie’s father.The Rooney family does not want any other family to live through their nightmare of last July.Annie Rooney was struck and killed by a drunk driver with a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.Her father says writing Annie’s Law is the best way to memorialize his daughter.”We believe that this law is not a radical change but a furtherance of activities that will help minimize the risk, and we believe will save, just in the state of Ohio, 50 to 100 lives a year,” Rooney said.The legislation centers on the use of the ignition interlock breathalyzer device. An equipped vehicle won’t start if the blood alcohol content is above the legal limit after the person blows into the device.Current law allows a judge to require a first time offender convicted of drunk driving to use the device, but this bill would make it mandatory.The legislation would also give the judge discretion to require the device even for someone arrested for d-u-i.“It just seems like the right thing to do,” said State Representative Gary Scherer, one of the bill’s co-sponsors. “The sooner we get it into law the better, so we can start saving lives.””This is nothing draconian, but it is I think a significant advance as a safety device, for the public and the drivers themselves,” added Rooney.An appeal for additional sponsors for Annie’s Law is already circulating through the statehouse. Sponsors hope to have the bill assigned to a committee by next week, with final passage by the end of the legislative session.Thirty-six states already have legislation that requires the use of ignition interlock devices on the first d-u-i conviction.Besides saving lives, the Center for Disease Control says the devices have also helped reduce repeat drunk driving offenses by 67 percent.http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2014/03/04/oh-annies-law.html

 

Woman gets maximum sentence in fatal drunken-driving death

Crime was years in the making

By Holly Zachariah
The Columbus Dispatch
Wednesday February 12, 2014 8:26 AM
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — The security video at Jerry’s West bar shows Shira Seymour so drunk on July 4 that she keeps tumbling from her barstool. She eventually rests her face on the wooden bar and falls asleep.Finally, she stumbles out and drives off. After blowing through three red lights and driving without her headlights at 9:20 p.m., she veered across Rt. 50 in Ross County at 80 mph and slammed into the Lincoln Navigator that local lawyer Annie Rooney was driving on her way home from a friend’s house.Rooney, 36, died a few hours later. And now a judge has sentenced Seymour, also 36, to spend eight years in prison, the maximum, after she pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony.“Annie’s death was not a random accident,” her younger sister, Kate Rooney Lyaker said during yesterday’s hearing in Ross County Common Pleas Court. “She took her car and, like a gun, she fired it into a crowd … and she killed my sister, Annie.”The case was heard by visiting Judge Leonard F. Holzapfel, appointed because of Rooney’s relationship with the court as a local attorney — one who had recently moved back home to Chillicothe to be near her family.Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt told Holzapfel that Seymour had escaped justice a number of times.Seymour, of Bainbridge, has 24 misdemeanor charges dating to 1997. She had been charged with drunken driving in Athens County in 1997 and had three such charges filed in Chillicothe Municipal Court over the years, but all had been reduced.She has had her license suspended three times.“She is one of too many in the state of Ohio who slipped through the cracks,” Schmidt said in court. “Up until July 4, 2013, she had never faced any consequences for her out-of-control actions.”The company that owns Jerry’s West was cited by Ohio’s Investigative Unit for serving an intoxicated person after Seymour, who was seriously hurt in the crash that day, was arrested. That administrative case is pending.A State Highway Patrol dispatcher was disciplined because an off-duty Chillicothe police officer reported Seymour’s erratic driving but the dispatcher didn’t relay that to anyone. The crash happened about four minutes later.Rooney’s family, working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has asked two state legislators to draft a law that would require locking devices to be installed on the vehicles of anyone charged with drunken driving, even on a first offense.“It’s too late for Annie,” said her older brother, Walter Rooney. “But it’s not too late for someone else.”Prosecutors said Seymour also had an extraordinarily high level of marijuana in her system at the time of the crash.When it was her turn to speak, Seymour turned and faced the Rooney family and their 70-plus supporters in the courtroom. She said she comes from generations of alcoholics.“I do not consider myself a bad person,” she said. “For the past 23 years, I have been blinded by my alcoholism. I will never be able to forgive myself.”That wasn’t good enough for Dr. Richard Rooney. He tried to explain to the judge the pain of standing at your child’s grave.“I remember the powerful impulse to climb into the next grave so I could rest beside her and we could talk,” he said. “The loss is profound.”

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/02/11/fatal-wreck-sentence.html

 

Shira Seymour pleads guilty to aggravated

vehicular homicide

 

Jan. 3, 2014 CHILLICOTHE — A Bainbridge woman charged in connection with a July 4 head-on crash that killed a local attorney pleaded guilty Thursday to aggravated vehicular homicide.

Shira B. Seymour, 36, was set to have a pretrial hearing Thursday when she entered the plea “without any plea deal on the table,” said Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt.

Seymour was indicted in October by a Ross County grand jury on three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide. The charges alleged Seymour was driving drunk on U.S. 50 about a mile west of Slate Mills when she crashed her SUV head-on into another SUV driven by 36-year-old Annie Rooney, who was returning home from Bainbridge, where she had borrowed a bicycle from a friend.

Seymour on Thursday pleaded guilty to one of the three counts. By doing so, Schmidt said, “the other (two) counts merge into it.” Seymour faces a potential sentence of two to eight years in prison. She’s scheduled to be sentenced at 1 p.m. Feb. 11.

Rooney’s brother, Walt Rooney, said Seymour’s plea is another step toward what matters most to his family at this point — the sentencing.

“That’s our chance to talk directly to the judge and let him know how this has impacted our family,” Rooney said. “This is still brutal for all of us.”

Rooney said the family will ask for the maximum sentence of eight years.

Although seriously injured herself that night, Seymour was conscious at the scene and allegedly told an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper that she had “plenty” to drink. A patrol report released in August revealed lab analysis indicating Seymour’s blood alcohol content was about twice the legal limit.

Online court records show Seymour does not have a felony record, but she has had at least three misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle impaired filed against her that were reduced in Chillicothe Municipal Court.

In 2008, Seymour pleaded guilty to physical control, a reduction from an operating a vehicle impaired, and she had two OVI cases — one involving marijuana metabolites — that were dismissed in 2012 after she pleaded guilty to failure to control. She also had a 2011 hit-skip charge that was dismissed after she pleaded guilty to failure to yield.

Seymour’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles driving history shows she had an OVI conviction out of Athens Municipal Court in 1997. The report also indicates she has had her license suspended three times — from Jan. 4, 1997, to Jan. 24, 1997, which was modified to March 27, 1997, and March 12, 2008, to March 12, 2009, both of which were considered an administrative license suspension.

The most recent suspension was an overlapping noncompliance and financial responsibility suspension from July 18, 2008, to July 18, 2011.

 

As Seen on NBC news October 22, 2013

Family Of Woman Killed By Suspected Drunk Driver Pushes For New Law

Posted: Oct 22, 2013 5:50 PM EDTUpdated: Oct 22, 2013 5:50 PM EDT

By: Rick Reitzel - email
By: Alex Mazer, Multimedia Content Producer - email
 
Annie had borrowed a mountain bike from a friend and was driving home in a Lincoln Navigator, when she was hit head-on by 36-year-old Shira B. Seymour, of Bainbridge.Annie had borrowed a mountain bike from a friend and was driving home in a Lincoln Navigator, when she was hit head-on by 36-year-old Shira B. Seymour, of Bainbridge.
ROSS COUNTY, Ohio -Annie Rooney on her way home from a bike ride when she was struck head-on and killed by a suspected drunk driver on July 4.Now, Rooney’s father, Richard Rooney, says he and his family are pushing for a law that would stop drunk drivers before they have the chance to drive.Since her death, Annie’s family has been working with lawmakers proposing Annie’s law. Rooney calls it an easy way to decrease the death rate caused by convicted drunk drivers getting behind the wheel.”The liquor establishment served the perpetrator while she was clearly intoxicated which is against the law,” Richard said.”Everybody would be subjected to have to pass a breathalyzer test before their ignition starts. That is called an ignition interlock breathalyzer system.”In 15 states there is already a law that requires an interlock device on the vehicle belonging anyone who has been convicted of OVI, and several more require a device after the first conviction.Annie’s law could help the State of Ohio join that group, but there is opposition from some in the liquor industry.”I would tell my daughter we are doing it for you,” said Richard.Richard says his daughter dedicated her life before and after she became a lawyer to helping those abused and suffering.He says his daughter was a prosecutor in Boseman, Montana. She lost her mentor to a drunk driver.”To realize another human being had been responsible for the death of our daughter was sort of devastating,” he said.Annie had borrowed a mountain bike from a friend and was driving home in a Lincoln Navigator, when she was hit head-on by 36-year-old Shira B. Seymour, of Bainbridge, who was driving a 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe.Seymour was indicted on three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide in the July 4 crash.Investigative reports from the Ohio State Highway Patrol show Seymour’s blood alcohol content was at .190, more than twice the legal limit, when the crash occurred.OSHP dispatcher Catherine Davis was working that evening from the Portsmouth dispatch center. Davis allegedly took a call reporting a suspected drunk driver, but failed to dispatch a trooper. Davis was given a written reprimand on October 2 for not dispatching a trooper to the report of a drunk driver.According to the OSHP report Davis violated policy and did not properly log the service call.”There were multiple opportunities where this could have been prevented,” said Richard.Seymour pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held in the Ross County Jail on $500,000 bond.
 http://www.nbc4i.com/story/23760945/family-of-woman-killed-by-suspected-drunk-driver-pushes-for-new-law

As Published October 21, 2013

Patrol reprimands dispatcher in Rooney case

Oct. 21, 2013 10:14 PM   

Written by
Jona Ison

CHILLICOTHE — An Ohio Highway Patrol dispatcher was issued a written reprimand for not dispatching a trooper after a report of a reckless driver traveling west on U.S. 50 July 4.

Shortly after the dispatcher, Catherine A. Davis, received the call, Shira Seymour drove left of center while traveling west on U.S. 50 about a mile past Slate Mills. Her SUV crashed head on into another SUV driven by local attorney Annie Rooney, who died from her injuries the next day.

Seymour has been indicted on three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide for allegedly being drunk at the time of the crash.

Although the investigation determined Davis, who works out of the Portsmouth dispatch center, did not dispatch a trooper, it also found it unlikely the crash could have been prevented if a trooper had been dispatched.

The suspected impaired driver, allegedly Seymour, had been spotted speeding along Western Avenue without headlights on and running at least three red lights.

Off-duty Chillicothe police Sgt. Jon Robinson had called in the report after spotting the reckless vehicle along Plyleys Lane as he was driving his personal vehicle with his children inside to the city’s fireworks display, according to the patrol’s internal investigation report.

Robinson told investigators the driver stopped at a green light at Western Avenue and turned left after the light changed to red. He attempted to radio dispatch, but could not immediately get through as he followed the SUV in an attempt to block the driver in somewhere.

He ended his pursuit because he had accelerated to 70 miles per hour and was concerned about the safety of his children inside his vehicle.

After reaching the Chillicothe dispatcher, Robinson said he monitored radio traffic and heard the crash call go out about four minutes after he ended the call.

He told investigators he didn’t believe the dispatcher had enough time between receiving his report and the crash to have sent a trooper.

The investigation into how Davis handled the call began as early as July 29 at the request of Lt. Jeffrey Carman, the assistant commander at the Jackson district headquarters.

According to the report, released Monday, Davis told investigators she began to initiate dispatch of a trooper for the reckless driver but did not remember completing it before the crash was reported.

Investigators reported they were unable to determine an accurate timeline of the calls because of time differences between systems at the patrol, the police department and the Ross County Sheriff’s Office, which reported the crash to the patrol.

Ultimately, the investigation was unable to substantiate allegations that Davis did not create and log the service call into the system but did determine she did not dispatch a trooper.

“The investigation also shows that a unit responding to the service call would likely not have been able to prevent the crash based on the statement of Police Sergeant Robinson,” the report reads.

However, the report also indicated that a patrol sergeant was on U.S. 50 within 3 to 8 miles of the crash when it happened about 4 miles west of Chillicothe.

Davis, who got choked up at least once during the interview and needed to take a break, told investigators she had believed he was on U.S. 23 and not U.S. 50. and subsequently too far away to have responded to the reckless vehicle call.

Davis was issued a written reprimand for neglect of duty Oct. 2 and attended additional training Oct. 10, of which the report noted she was receptive to. During her seven years with the patrol, three of which have been at the Portsmouth dispatch center, Davis has had no recorded discipline, according to patrol spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston.

Davis told investigators her typical routine for handling a reckless driver call is to input the information into the computer-aided dispatch program to find the nearest trooper. If none is nearby, she will call the sheriff’s office, and if that also fails, she calls the post to let them know about the call.

Davis told investigators she believes she turned her attention to the injury call where there was a report of an explosion and dropped the reckless operation report.

She also told investigators she did not remember hearing that the report came from an off-duty officer or that the SUV’s headlights were off.

A fellow dispatcher that night said he and Davis heard about the reckless driver report made by a police officer two days after the crash, but neither of them remembered taking the call.

http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20131021/NEWS01/310210028/Patrol-reprimands-dispatcher-Rooney-case

 

As Published October 15, 2013

 $500,000 bond set after crash that killed attorney Annie Rooney

Written by: Jona Ison / Gazette
10/15/13  3:40pm

CHILLICOTHE — Bond was set at $500,000 for a woman charged in a July 4 crash that killed attorney Annie Rooney.

Shira Seymour, 36, of Harris Station Road, Bainbridge, appeared by video conferencing and pleaded not guilty to three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide.

Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt requested the high bond, calling Seymour a flight risk due to the seriousness of the charges and potential of facing time in prison. He also told Judge Scott Nusbaum he felt she was a risk to the community, calling her “essentially a ticking time bomb.”

Although Seymour has no felony record, Schmidt pointed to her prior misdemeanor impaired driving convictions — one in 1997 from Athens County and OVI charges from 2009 and two from 2012 that had been reduced.

Schmidt also highlighted some evidence expected to be presented at trial — a video of Seymour allegedly drinking at Jerry’s West a little more than an hour before the crash. In it, he alleged Seymour is seen falling from a bar stool and staggering.

He also mentioned two independent witnesses who spotted Seymour driving on Western Avenue just prior to the crash. One was an off-duty Chillicothe Police officer who Schmidt said chased her to the edge of Chillicothe at 70 miles per hour after allegedly spotting her speeding and running red lights.

Another witness allegedly saw Seymour driving past the intersection of Veteran’s Parkway without headlights.

Schmidt alleged Seymour was driving at 80 mph when she went left-of-center and head-on into Rooney’s SUV that was traveling an estimated 39 mph. Lab analysis alleges Seymour’s blood alcohol content was about twice the legal limit.

Ross County Public Defender Susan Pettit spoke for a lesser bond, mentioning Seymour’s alleged mental health issues and continued pain from several broken bones sustained in the crash. Pettit also mentioned Seymour has several doctor’s appointments slated and an 11-year-old child she is concerned about.

Ultimately, Nusbaum went with Schmidt’s recommendation on bond and then recused himself from presiding over the case. Pettit also mentioned during the arraignment that she was only representing Seymour for arraignment, that an Athens County public defender would be assigned to the case.

Many across the local judicial system knew Rooney personally. She had been a legal intern at the Ross County Public Defender’s Office and was an assistant prosecutor under Schmidt for a few months at the end of 2012.

Rooney had joined the prosecutor’s office in a temporary position upon her return to Chillicothe from Montana where she had been a prosecutor. She continued in private practice in a rented office at the same location as the Ross County Prosecutor’s Office.

While Nusbaum has recused himself and Judge Mike Ater said he too would recuse himself if asked by the Ohio Supreme Court to preside over the case, Schmidt intends to continue as prosecution.

While judges have to be fully impartial, Schmidt said he doesn’t and that he has no conflict of interest with the witnesses or Seymour.

“It is a different kind of a case because I knew the victim, and it makes it hard in that regard,” Schmidt said.

 

As Published October 11, 2013

Grand jury indicts woman in crash that killed a local attorney
Seymour facing three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide in July 4 incident

Oct. 11, 2013 10:27 PM |
Written by
Jona Ison
Gazette Staff Writer

CHILLICOTHE — A Bainbridge woman has been indicted on felony charges relating to a July 4 crash that killed a local attorney.

Shira B. Seymour, 36, was secretly indicted Friday by a Ross County grand jury on three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide. Each charge contains different elements and, if convicted, Seymour only would be sentenced on one of the counts. She was arrested Friday night at her home, Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt said.

The charges allege Seymour was driving drunk when she crashed her SUV head-on into another SUV driven by 36-year-old Annie Rooney, who was returning home from Bainbridge where she had borrowed a bicycle from a friend.

The indictment was delayed because of Seymour’s continued recovery from injuries she sustained in the crash. She had been receiving in-patient rehabilitation since her release from the hospital and recently was released.

Although seriously injured herself that night, Seymour was conscious at the scene and allegedly told an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper that she had “plenty” to drink. A patrol report released in August revealed lab analysis alleges Seymour’s blood alcohol content was roughly twice the legal limit.

The bar where Seymour was alleged to have been drinking that night — Jerry’s West — also is facing an administrative violation for allegedly selling alcohol to an intoxicated person.

Walt Rooney, Annie Rooney’s brother, said the family feels relieved that charges had been filed. Since the crash, the family has been seeking a pathway to get stricter legislation in Ohio relating to drunken driving, especially after learning of Seymour’s prior record.

Online court records show Seymour does not have a felony record, but she has had at least three misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle impaired filed against her that were reduced in Chillicothe Municipal Court.

In 2008, Seymour pleaded guilty to physical control, a reduction from an operating a vehicle impaired, and she had two OVI cases — one involving marijuana metabolites — that were dismissed in 2012 after she pleaded guilty to failure to control. She also had a 2011 hit-skip charge that was dismissed after she pleaded guilty to failure to yield.

Seymour’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles driving history shows she had an OVI conviction out of Athens Municipal Court in 1997. The report also indicates she’s had her license suspended three times — from Jan. 4, 1997, to Jan. 24, 1997, which was modified to March 27, 1997, and March 12, 2008, to March 12, 2009, both of which were considered an administrative license suspension.

The most recent suspension was an overlapping noncompliance and financial responsibility suspension from July 18, 2008, to July 18, 2011.

http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20131011/NEWS01/310110021/Grand-jury-indicts-woman-crash-killed-local-attorney

As Published September 30, 2013

Parents Push For New Laws After Daughter Killed By Drunk Driver

Monday September 30, 2013 6:51 PM UPDATED: Monday September 30, 2013 6:53 PM

By Chuck Strickler

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – Annie Rooney was picking up a friend’s bike when her life was cut short on Independence Day along a stretch of U.S Route 50 west of Chillicothe.
It’s less than three miles from Jerry’s Pizza West, the restaurant that was recently cited by state investigators.
The business is accused of serving alcohol to the alleged drunk driver who struck and killed Rooney.
Now, almost three months after the crash, Rooney’s family is on a mission to prevent tragedies like this in the future…
“It was the worst – the worst thing that’s ever happened to us,” said Rick Rooney, Annie’s father, as he sat next to wife, Carole, on the patio of their Chillicothe home.
Rick says the night of July fourth will be forever etched in their minds, a nightmare that never goes away.
“Two state patrolmen came to the door and told us about the accident,” Rick said.
The head-on crash happened along a two-lane stretch of U.S. Route 50, less than two miles from the Rooney’s home.
A memorial cross honoring Annie now stands at the spot of the crash, near the visible scars in the pavement – and the scars in her parents’ hearts…
“We’re all in a state of shock, and it took a while for the idea that another human being had caused this,” Rick added.
Charges are still pending against the female driver, but a state police report alleges the driver had a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit.
And members of the Department of Public Safety’s Ohio Investigative unit have now cited Jerry’s for allegedly selling alcohol to the driver.
The Rooneys say their daughter had moved from Montana, worked briefly with the Ross County Prosecutor’s office and was setting up her law practice in Chillicothe.
They say since her death, love and support has poured in from across the country from Annie’s friends, who share story after story with them.
The Rooneys say this gives them comfort as they continue to grieve.
They say they want justice for those responsible for their daughter’s death, but they also want to prevent future tragedies.
“Rick and I now belong to a club nobody wants to join, “Carole said.  “I don’t want anybody else in this club, who’s lost a child – nobody should ever have to be in this position.”
And that’s why they are working to pass state legislation to require an interlock ignition device on all vehicles of DUI offenders.  Similar laws have passed in almost two dozen states.  The devices prevent the car engine from starting if the driver fails a breathalyzer test in the car.
“In Ohio, we want to make it Annie’s law,” Rick said.
“The more work we can do to pass this law and make people aware, the better off we’re all going to be,” added Carole. “We don’t want anybody to ever go through this.”
Investigators tell 10TV the restaurant’s case now goes before the state liquor control commission, but a decision may not come until next year.
Possible penalties include a fine, suspension or revocation of its liquor permit.
10TV reached out to the owner of Jerry’s but did not get a call back for comment.
The Department of Public Safety routinely does what it calls ‘trace-back’ investigations, looking at the source of alcohol in traffic crashes.
The state agency says it has investigated nearly 80 cases so far this year.
As of September 3rd, the agency says three of those cases ended up with citations, nine with arrests, and four with citations and an arrest.
Meantime, the Rooney family says it is actively pursuing a sponsor for Annie’s law.

 

As Published September 28, 2013

Local bar faces citation after fatal car crash

Business allegedly served woman before collision

Sep. 28, 2013 6:17 PM   |Written by
Jona Ison
Gazette Staff Writer

CHILLICOTHE — A local bar has been cited for allegedly selling alcohol to the driver in a July 4 crash that killed a local attorney.

The Ohio Investigative Unit has cited Jerry’s Pizza West with sale of alcohol to an intoxicated person in relation to the crash that killed 36-year-old Annie Rooney.

Charges are pending in the crash, but an Ohio Highway Patrol report alleges that Shira Seymour, 36, had a blood alcohol content of 0.19 when she crashed her SUV head-on into Rooney’s SUV on U.S. 50. The patrol report alleges Seymour had told the trooper she had “plenty” to drink and told the trooper “yes” when he asked if she had been at Jerry’s.

Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt said the question was prompted by a receipt found inside Seymour’s vehicle and that the patrol initiated the trace back investigation.

Jerry’s owner, Tom Howison, could not be reached for comment Friday or Saturday.

Jerry’s West is on Star Drive, about three miles from the site of the crash and the area where an off-duty Chillicothe police sergeant stopped following a suspected intoxicated driver just minutes before the crash. According to radio traffic between Chillicothe and highway patrol dispatchers, the sergeant apparently first spotted the driver further east of Jerry’s since he had reported seeing the vehicle pass through at least three red lights without stopping.

The patrol’s internal investigation into whether the patrol dispatcher attempted to dispatch anyone after being notified of the reckless driver remains pending.

The administrative citation, delivered to Jerry’s on Sept. 20, was part of an initiative by the Ohio Investigative Unit to trace back the source of alcohol in serious and fatal crashes, said Agent Eric Wolf, of the Ohio Investigative Unit.

The citation was forwarded to the Liquor Control Commission for their review. Factors of the case and history of the permit holder will be considered in determining penalties, which could range from a fine to revocation of the business’ liquor license, Wolf said.

Walt Rooney, Annie’s brother, said the family feels it’s “very important and very positive” that all angles of the crash are being investigated and pursued.

No other businesses have been cited from the trace back investigation, and misdemeanor criminal charges against the server are unlikely at this point, Schmidt said.

“I don’t anticipate misdemeanor charges filed on the server. We want to call her as a witness,” he said.

Schmidt has discussed the case with law director Sherri Rutherford, who was contacted by the investigative unit about filing a charge against the server. Rutherford’s office prosecutes misdemeanor charges in Chillicothe and Ross County, while Schmidt’s office oversees felony cases.

Jessie Balmert contributed to this report.

http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20130928/NEWS01/309280015/Local-bar-faces-citation-after-fatal-car-crash

 

As Published Sept 8, 2013

Tragedy inspires siblings to advocate for  OVI law change.

Written by Jona Ison, Gazette Staff Writer
Published Sept 8, 2013.

CHILLICOTHE — A Saturday event to honor an attorney killed in a July 4 drunken driving crash not only provided comfort to her family but publicly connected her death with the Mother’s Against Drunk Driving cause.

The Chillicothe Fitness & Racquet Club hosted an open house in Annie Rooney’s memory, and proceeds from the various activities were donated to MADD. The continued outpouring of support since Annie’s death has been a source of comfort for her family.

“The people help us. The fact that they cared so deeply for her,” said her mother, Carole Rooney.

Her father, Rick Rooney, said they never realized the scope of effect Annie had on people during her 36 years and doubt she realized it either. The Rooneys receive some kind of contact daily about Annie, even after two months. For example, they received a letter the other day about a donation given in Annie’s name by a running club to the Catholic Inter-City Schools Education Fund.

“They lift us up and carry us along. … We’re not by ourselves. We’re in a much bigger boat than we ever dreamed,” Rick said.

The tragic loss of their sister has motivated Kate Rooney Lyaker, 33, and Walt Rooney, 43, to begin networking and pushing for changes to Ohio laws concerning impaired drivers.

“Within a week of her death, we were, on a walk crying and we said, ‘I will do anything it takes to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone again,’” Kate said.

Charges are pending in the crash, but an Ohio Highway Patrol report released last month indicated blood alcohol test results show the driver of the other vehicle, Shira Seymour, of Bainbridge, was nearly twice the legal limit. Seymour had two prior charges of impaired driving that were reduced to physical control.

Last year statewide, there were 494 people killed in an impaired-driving related crash — about 44 percent of all crashes in 2012 involved impaired drivers, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol.

“There are states that do better than we do, and there are concrete steps to get the numbers down,” Walt said.

During the past two months, Kate and Walt have been meeting and setting up appointments with key players in the impaired-driving arena such as the state and national directors of MADD and the CEO of a leading interlock device manufacturer. Kate said they also have plans to meet with Gov. John Kasich later this month.

Kate and Walt are convinced the answer is following the path of 20 other states and making ignition interlock devices mandatory for anyone convicted of a drunk-driving offense, even first-time offenders.

An ignition interlock is a device that can be installed in a vehicle and prevents operation without a passing test result from its breathalyzer. The system also is set up to periodically do checks while the car is operating. Altough judges are permitted by law to order defendants use a certified device as part of community control sanctions, it is discretionary.

“It doesn’t interfere with their lives. … They just can’t drink and drive,” Kate said.

She and Walt cite a review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was released in 2011 and recommended more widespread use of the devices for everyone convicted.

The CDC reviewed 15 scientific studies on ignition interlocks in which researchers found that rearrest rates for those with an interlock device decreased by a median 67 percent relative to those with suspended licenses.

Kate, who has been a prosecutor in Delaware, said she understands the want to punish through license suspensions, but the fact is, people still drive.

“We’re relying on a person’s judgment, which we see has failed,” she said.

The Ohio Highway Patrol alone has issued 470 driving under suspension citations in 2013, which is already eight above what they issued in all of 2012.

“This bill has been attempted in Ohio for almost six years without success. … If this had been passed, we wouldn’t have gone through this,” Walt said.

Earlier this year, the Ohio Judicial Conference’s Traffic Law and Procedure Committee heard about a meeting with those interested in the interlock bill, including Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township. The suggestion was for first offenders to be required to have an interlock device and allow those convicted and subject to a license suspension to obtain driving privileges with an interlock device.

The committee is responsible for analyzing pending legislation with a judicial impact on traffic laws and procedures and reviewing issues and proposals of relevance to judges. It makes recommendations to improve Ohio Revised Code, Ohio Traffic Rules, and relevant Supreme Court Rules of Superintendence.

According to February minutes, the committee — which consists of 17 judges from throughout the state — issued concerns including that indigent offenders had an equal opportunity to get the device, that there would be repercussions for violating the interlock and that the devices only detect alcohol, not drugs. The committee also pointed to ripple effects to existing laws, such as the automatic driver’s license suspension for people who refuse to take a test.

As Kate and Walt move forward with their advocacy, Kate said they intend to form a “Team Annie” coalition of lawyers and judges who will volunteer to craft and oversee an interlock bill they intend to call “Annie’s Law.”

“Of course I’m angry, but I’m cheerful and optimistic,” Kate said. “I’m Team Annie, and we’re going to get Annie’s Law passed. We want people to be safe and sober.”

 

The Following Story Appeared in the Chillicothe Gazette, August 25,2013:

http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20130824/NEWS01/308240038/Drunk-not-guilty-Nearly-40-percent-OVI-suspects-not-convicted

 

 Drunk but not guilty: Nearly 40 percent of OVI suspects not convicted

Aug. 25, 2013   |
Written by  Jessie Balmert  CentralOhio.com, a Gannette news service.
Rick and Carole Rooney, the parents of Annie Rooney, hold a photo of their daughter who was killed by a drunk driver in July. / Brent Lewis/Gazette

For more on Ohio’s OVI conviction rates, including a look at why the state’s numbers can’t always be trusted and some cases where charges were dropped for questionable reasons, go to 7A

Rick and Carole Rooney hold a photo of their daughter, Annie, who was killed in the July crash involving Seymour. / Brent Lewis/CentralOhio.com

Annie Rooney devoted her professional life to protecting the victims of domestic violence and alcohol abuse. If Chillicothe legal officials had followed her example, the 36-year-old might still be alive, her brother, Walt Rooney, said.

Instead, the habitual traffic offender who collided with Rooney on July 4 was given chance after chance after chance.

Across Ohio, nearly four out of every 10 people cited by police for driving impaired, about 23,000 motorists, weren’t convicted of the charge, according to 2012 Ohio Supreme Court statistics released last month.

The driver who stuck Rooney, Shira B. Seymour, 36, of Bainbridge, has been in seven crashes in the past 13 years and racked up 16 traffic convictions ranging from seat belt violations and speeding tickets to driving past a stopped school bus and operating a vehicle while under the influence. Seymour’s blood alcohol content was nearly double the legal limit when she struck Annie Rooney’s SUV on U.S. 50, according to lab reports.

“This activity was just permitted to go on indefinitely,” Annie’s father, Rick Rooney, said.

Rick and his wife, Carole, suggested mandatory training for bartenders to spot impaired individuals and breathalyzers attached to the ignition of convicted OVI offenders’ cars to stem the problem.

Numbers reported to the Ohio Supreme Court suggest Ross County has the worst conviction rate for operating a vehicle while under the influence in the state, with just 11.2 percent of drunken drivers who were charged with OVIs actually convicted of the original charge last year.

Conviction rates for OVI offenses varied wildly across the state with some courts convicting 90 percent of offenders on the original charge and others convicting less than 25 percent, according to the state supreme court’s numbers. That variability means every drunken driver stopped on Ohio’s roads doesn’t have the same shot at incarceration.

Variations abound

Of the 23 criminal and traffic cases filed against Seymour in Chillicothe Municipal Court, nine had at least one charge reduced or dismissed, two are still pending and no charges have been filed regarding the July 4 crash to date. Two cases initially charged as OVIs were reduced to failure to maintain physical control — being impaired while in the driver’s seat of a vehicle without driving.

“I just can’t imagine that this would have happened in any other setting,” Rick Rooney said. “There are a lot of questions that haunt us.”

But Chillicothe Law Director Sherri Rutherford said the way Chillicothe Municipal Court Clerk Lisa Large reports numbers to the Ohio Supreme Court makes her office’s conviction rate look much worse than it actually is. A review of Chillicothe Municipal Court records put the 2012 OVI conviction rate at about 61 percent.

Concerns about reporting variations are shared by other law directors and are the subject of an Ohio Supreme Court advisory group’s review.

Still, a CentralOhio.com review of OVI cases filed in March 2013 revealed differences in how courts handle drunken driving. In Muskingum County, 82.1 percent of cases resulted in convictions to the original charge. In Richland County, 36.7 percent of the first 30 OVIs resulted in convictions to that charge — lower than average for the county. Licking and Ross counties fell in the middle with 60 and 62 percent convicted of the original OVI, respectively.

Rutherford said it’s important to look at the facts of each case. While Seymour is a “terrible driver,” there was little Rutherford’s office could do legally to stop her, the law director said.

“Obviously, you’d like to think you could have done something to change things. But people drive even if they don’t have a license,” Rutherford said.

Seymour’s license, which had been suspended previously, had no restrictions at the time of the fatal collision. Lacee Seymour, Shira’s sister, declined to comment. Seymour remains at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University being treated for injuries from the crash.

‘A horrific problem’

Variability in OVI penalties is disheartening, but not surprising, said Doug Scoles, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Ohio. Whether a person is convicted of driving impaired depends largely on who’s prosecuting the case and who’s on the bench, he said.

“There are certain counties that are not doing a great job at all,” Scoles said.

Ohio’s police officers don’t have control over whether prosecutors reduce or dismiss OVI offenses, said Michael Weinman, director of government affairs for the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio. Their only recourse is to rescind the fraternal order’s endorsement of judges or law directors, he added.

“It does get frustrating for officers if they get pleaded down,” Weinman said.

Rutherford said every OVI case isn’t going to result in a conviction because problems with evidence and human error will play a role. Still, she’s satisfied with the job her office does in prosecuting drunken drivers.

Operating a vehicle while under the influence is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by at least three days and up to six months in county jail, a $2,500 fine and temporary loss of driving privileges on the first offense. Repeat offenses can lead to stiffer penalties and felony charges.

Drivers who had their cases reduced often pleaded guilty to reckless operation, a minor to third-degree misdemeanor assessed for driving without regard for the safety of people or property, or having physical control of vehicle while under the influence, a first-degree misdemeanor like OVIs, but without the mandatory jail time. Both alternatives not only lessened penalties for that offense, but for future offenses as well.

Reducing or dismissing OVI charges sends the wrong message to offenders and can leave dangerous people behind the wheel, Scoles said. Last year, 12,545 crashes and 431 that resulted in fatalities were alcohol-related, according to the Ohio Highway Patrol.

“You don’t want offenders to slip through the cracks,” Scoles said.

Rob Calesaric, a Newark defense attorney and co-chair of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ DUI committee, said he’s experienced the differences in prosecution of OVI offenses firsthand. Some courts frequently reduce OVI offenses to reckless operation violations while others never will.

They’re no rhyme or reason to the differences except politics, Calesaric said. MADD is a powerful organization, and some judges don’t want to be seen as soft on drunken drivers, even if the facts don’t support a conviction, he added.

These differences mean the Rooneys, like so many other families, are left wondering: If Seymour had faced another court system, would she still have been on the road? Would Annie be preparing for her next bike ride or yoga session?

“We’re all going to be angry for the rest of our lives,” Walt Rooney said. “It’s just a horrific problem.”

Shira Seymour’s past violations

• On Jan. 4, 1997, Shira B. Seymour, then 19, was stopped for driving impaired. She was convicted of operating a vehicle while under the influence and her license was suspended.

• On Nov. 24, 1999 and Dec. 31, 1999, Seymour received speeding tickets for driving 70 mph and 69 mph in 55 mile per hour zones.

• On March 24, 2000, Seymour was involved in a crash.

• On Nov. 20, 2001, Seymour was caught speeding in Waverly.

• On March 30, 2003, Seymour was cited for an improper turn in Chillicothe Municipal Court following a crash.

• On June 11, 2006, Seymour was cited for speeding after driving 72 mph in a 55 mph zone.

• On Jan. 19, 2007, she was cited for speeding after driving 71 mph in a 55 mph zone in Circleville.

• On March 12, 2008, Seymour was cited with OVI and failing to dim her high beams in Chillicothe. She refused a blood alcohol content test. The case was reduced to physical control because Seymour had not been observed driving.

• On June 6, 2008, Seymour rear-ended another vehicle on U.S. 50. She initially was charged for driving without an operator’s license and failure to maintain assured clear distance. The first charge was dismissed.

• On July 24, 2011, Seymour struck a vehicle turning from U.S. 50 onto South Walnut Street. Seymour was initially charged with hit skip but the charge was reduced to failure to yield.

• On Aug. 5, 2011, Seymour crashed into a vehicle on Ohio 104. No one was injured.

• On May 27, 2012, Seymour was cited for speeding.

• On Aug. 31, 2012, Seymour was cited for failing to stop for a school bus.

• On Oct. 4, 2012, Seymour drove off the side of U.S. 50 and overturned in a ditch. Seymour was charged with OVI, but the charge was later reduced to physical control. Neither her alcohol nor marijuana levels were above the legal limit, and the law director’s office did not want to hire an expert to testify about her reported impairment because no one was injured.

• On July 4, 2013, Seymour collided with Annie Rooney’s vehicle on U.S. 50. Rooney died of injuries from the crash early July 5. Seymour, whose blood alcohol content was nearly two times the legal limit, had not been charged for the crash to date. Sources: Chillicothe Municipal Court records, Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Chillicothe Law Director Sherri Rutherford, Ohio Department of Public Safety crash reports. List does not include non-traffic or seat-belt violations.

More inside

For more on Ohio’s OVI conviction rates, including a look at why the state’s numbers can’t always be trusted and some cases where charges were dropped for questionable reasons, go to 7A

Rick and Carole Rooney hold a photo of their daughter, Annie, who was killed in the July crash involving Seymour. / Brent Lewis/CentralOhio.com

Reporters Mark Caudill and Patrick O’Neill contributed to this article.

 

 The Following Article Appeared in the Columbus Dispatch on August 24, 2013:

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/08/24/patrol-probes-dispatchers-handling-of-call-before-fatal-crash.html
By  Randy Ludlow

The Columbus Dispatch Saturday August 24, 2013 5:43 AM

A State Highway Patrol dispatcher is under investigation for failing to alert troopers to intercept a reckless driver who, minutes later, caused a crash that killed a Chillicothe lawyer.

The July 4 crash onRt. 50 west of Chillicothe fatally injured Anna Rooney, 36, and critically injured Shira Seymour, 36, of Bainbridge, when Seymour’s sport-utility vehicle crossed the center line and hit Rooney’s SUV.

Seymour’s blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.19 percent, more than twice the 0.08 percent level at which a driver is presumed drunk in Ohio. She has not been charged.

A Chillicothe police officer called the patrol dispatcher at 9:23 p.m. to report that an off-duty officer had seen a speeding vehicle, later identified as Seymour’s, run three red lights while heading west out of the city without its headlights on.

Dispatcher Catherine Davis indicated, according to a recording, that no troopers were nearby. The crash occurred about five minutes later, and the first trooper arrived a minute after it was reported, according to patrol records.

Davis failed to notify troopers about the reckless driver. Nor did she relay the report to other police agencies, such as the sheriff’s office, said Lt. Anne Ralston, spokeswoman for the patrol.

The dispatcher also apparently violated patrol policy by failing to document the call received from Chillicothe police, Ralston said. Davis, 62, who has no history of disciplinary action, remains on the job. She did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Rooney’s brother said the theft of his sister’s bicycles in Columbus contributed to her death. She died in the crash while returning home from a friend’s house, where she had borrowed a bike for an upcoming race. Two of her bikes were stolen while she was visiting German Village on June 30.

rludlow@dispatch.com

@RandyLudlow

 

The Following Video Story Appeared on NBC News August 20, 2013:

http://www.nbc4i.com/story/23180748/dispatcher-investigated-after-fatal-crash

 

The Following was published, on August 15, 2013.

Patrol Probes Crash that Killed Local Attorney

Written by
Jona Ison
Gazette Staff Writer 

Chillicothe Police Officer Brandon Matherwas dispatching when he called the patrol’s dispatch regarding an off-duty officer reporting a “black Blazer” driving at a high rate of speed heading out of Chillicothe west on U.S. 50, according to audio released by the patrol in response to a request for information by the Gazette.

Mather told the dispatcher that the Blazer did not have headlights on and had gone through as many as three red lights, according to the recording. The dispatcher seemed unsure whether she would be able to send someone to the area in which the driver was traveling, stating her closest unit was “clear at the 10.”

“Ok, I just wanted to make you guys aware of it. But there’s no way we can catch up to it,” Mather said on the call.

What the dispatcher meant in the initial response is expected to be part of an internal investigation, according to Public Information Officer Lt. Anne Ralston.

Shortly after — the time Mather’s call came into dispatch was not immediately released by the patrol and was not part of the audio — the patrol received a call from the Ross County Sheriff’s Office reporting that there was a two-vehicle injury crash on U.S. 50 and one of the vehicles had exploded. The crash happened about 3 miles from the intersection of Stone Ridge Drive where the next to last traffic light is located leaving Chillicothe, and troopers were dispatched at 9:21 p.m.

The first to arrive were two Chillicothe post patrol sergeants, one of which was the unit the dispatcher had said was “clear at the 10.” Both arrived on the crash scene within a minute of being dispatched, according to the crash report.

Annie Rooney, 36, died from injuries sustained in the head-on collision while the other driver, Shira Seymour, 36, remains hospitalized.

Charges are pending against Seymour, who reports state had a 0.190 blood alcohol content level at the time of the crash. According to the patrol’s report, Seymour was driving west on U.S. 50 in a 1999 blue Chevrolet Tahoe. An estimated speed is not listed on the report.

Ralston confirmed that the patrol is investigating the call from Mather and the dispatcher’s response after hanging up.

“There is a pending investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding an incident in which (a dispatcher) took a call for service and failed to dispatch a trooper or forward that call to another agency,” Ralston said via email. “It is also alleged that the employee also violated policy and did not properly log the service call.”

The dispatcher remains on duty as the investigation moves forward.

 

The Following Article was published August 14, 2013:

 

Report: Alcohol factored in crash that killed local attorney

Charges pending in July collision

 

http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20130813/NEWS01/308130020/Alcohol-factored-crash-killed-RooneyAug. 14, 2013
Written by
Jona Ison
Gazette Staff Writer
Annie Rooney, 36, died from injuries received July 4 in a head-on crash on U.S. 50. / Submitted

CHILLICOTHE — Charges are still pending in a crash that killed a local attorney July 4, but a report released this week alleges the other driver told troopers she had “plenty” to drink before the crash.

Shira B. Seymour, 36, of Bainbridge, remains hospitalized from injuries sustained in the head-on crash on U.S. 50 that killed Anna Rooney, 36, Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt said. The Ohio Highway Patrol reported, at the time of the crash, that it suspected alcohol to be a factor but did not divulge what led troopers to think Seymour might have been drinking that night.

The patrol’s investigative report said that although Seymour sustained several injuries to her face and body, including multiple broken bones, she was conscious and briefly spoke to a trooper after the crash, which occurred just west of Slate Mills. Her Chevrolet Tahoe had overturned and caught fire after colliding with Rooney’s Lincoln Navigator.

The trooper reportedly noticed a strong smell of alcohol on Seymour and asked how much alcohol she had consumed. She responded “plenty,” according to the report. She also reportedly admitted to drinking at a Chillicothe bar and restaurant and remembered nothing from the crash except seeing the lights of another vehicle.

According to the report and attached lab results, Seymour’s blood tested at an alcohol level of 0.190, which is almost twice the legal limit of 0.096 for blood/plasma.

No charges have been filed against Seymour, but Schmidt said prosecutors will be presenting the case to a grand jury for indictment on felony charges.

“The suspect is still hospitalized with some pretty substantial injuries, so we probably won’t proceed (to indictment) right away until she’s recovered some. … We’re continuing to put the case together,” he said.

Rooney’s autopsy and toxicology report is one item pending.

According to the report, Rooney was trapped and unconscious in her Lincoln and was finally freed from the vehicle about 90 minutes after rescue crews arrived. Both women were taken to Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, and Rooney died at 1:26 a.m. July 5, about four hours after the crash.

Schmidt said his office has asked for additional information, including a drug screening of Seymour’s blood. According to the alcohol analysis report from the patrol’s lab, it screens for drugs only if the alcohol results come back with blood alcohol levels less than 0.170 unless it is otherwise requested to screen for drugs.

Online court records show Seymour does not have a felony record, but she has had at least three misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle impaired filed against her that were reduced in Chillicothe Municipal Court.

In 2008, Seymour pleaded guilty to physical control, which was reduced from an operating a vehicle impaired, and she had two OVI cases — one involving marijuana metabolites — that were dismissed in 2012 after she pleaded guilty to failure to control. She also had a 2011 hit-skip charge that was dismissed after she pleaded to failure to yield.

Seymour’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles driving history shows she had an OVI conviction out of Athens Municipal Court in 1997. The report also indicates she’s had her license suspended three times — from Jan. 4, 1997, to Jan. 24, 1997, which was modified to March 27, 1997, and March 12, 2008, to March 12, 2009, both of which were considered an administrative license suspension. The most recent suspension was an overlapping non-compliance and financial responsibility suspension from July 18, 2008, to July 18, 2011.

 

The following article was published on July 22, 2013

http://m.chillicothegazette.com/topnews/article?a=2013307210007&f=889

Montana remembers local attorney

By Walt Rooney For the Gazette

July 22, 2013

BOZEMAN, Mont. — As the sun rose on the Bridger Mountains on Saturday morning, friends of Annie Rooney gathered at the Nova Cafe in downtown Bozeman.

“Annie was known for her dedication to prosecuting domestic violence cases, cases that were not pursued aggressively prior to her arrival” one of the city’s prosecuting attorneys said in Bozeman. “Annie had dedicated her life to prosecuting these cases in a way that had not been pursued aggressively for the past 10 years.”

Rooney, 36, was killed by a suspected drunken driver in Chillicothe on the night of July 4.

The investigation into the crash on U.S. 50 about a mile west of Slate Mills is ongoing, and no charges have been filed.

Rooney had spent six of her last 10 years in Bozeman, Mont., as a prosecuting attorney, a job through which she affected scores of people in the community. Rooney’s family made the trip from Chillicothe, Columbus and Seattle to Bozeman for a memorial celebration of her life Saturday.

Rooney was drawn to Montana in general, and Bozeman in particular, for stunning mountainous beauty and the spirit of the people, family and friends said.

The friends meeting for breakfast spoke of a culture of adventure, whether skiing the wide-open spaces, biking the Gallatin mountains, or fly-fishing the many rivers that divide the land.

The culture of her network of friends and colleagues embraced the thin air and endless adventure and settled in nightly for community meals in rotating homes — homes filled with characters from all across the country.

Later in the day, as family and friends pulled up to the memorial venue, the Gallatin mountains were still partially covered in snow, the aspens glistened in the afternoon sun, and the ubiquitous smell of pine was everywhere.

Two full school buses were just arriving from Bozeman, filled with friends, colleagues and admirers to celebrate the life of Annie Rooney.

The event commenced with comments from family members and friends, documenting Rooney’s arrival in 2001 as a bison herder at the Flying D Ranch.

Stories shared recalled Rooney’s pursuit of justice for the victims of domestic violence and drunken driving.

They mentioned her ability to take an interest in the safety of the victims, victims who often had no other alternatives for protection.

The people who spoke also mentioned Rooney as someone who yearned to be back with her parents in Chillicothe.

And they mourned letting her leave Bozeman, where at least they felt as if they could protect her from a catastrophe of which she was acutely aware.

Discussions evolved into a yearning to use the justice system to make Bozeman a safer place for its members. Rooney decided to focus on prosecuting domestic violence cases and DUI cases because she felt the victims were so helpless but the crimes ubiquitous.

Story after story presented by Rooney’s friends described her as a person with tremendous moral courage who possessed a deep conviction to serve humanity.

That was all done while wearing clothes that embodied her sense of fashion — a sense that was both eye-catching and hilarious, her friends said.

Friends talked about where they were and what they were doing when they first heard the tragic news.

One just disembarked a plane in San Francisco; one was in a secluded cabin in the mountains of Oregon; one was in Mexico; some were settling in to work July 5.

It was clear that her pursuit of justice was framed with generous words and a kind heart — a heart that helped many in attendance through their difficult times of grief.

Many spoke of a book that influenced Rooney’s understanding of suffering. Victor Frankl, who died in 1997, was a psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust and was the author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” first published in 1946.

The book was very meaningful to Rooney, friends said, and she often used what she learned while reading it to urge the victims of domestic violence and DUI drivers to strive for hope and meaning in their lives.

She urged that while suffering the horrific effects that come with being a victim of a crime.

“If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering” Frankl wrote.

With this in mind, those in attendance vowed to pursue tougher legislation in both Ohio and Montana to lower the catastrophic effects that these crimes have on innocent community members.

Both Bozeman and Chillicothe are smaller communities set in picturesque natural beauty, and both are plagued by these preventable crimes.  Despite its prevelance, drunk driving is a crime, and Ohio and Montana are states that have high per capita drunk driving fatality rates, according to centurycouncil.org.    Ironically, the driver that struck and killed Annie in Chillicothe was a suspected drunk driver.  A driver that, had Annie been able to help pass legislation to keep repeated drunk drivers off of the road – legislation that has been passed in other states, would never have been able to catastrophically end her life.

In Montana and Ohio combined, drunken driving incidents killed almost 400 people in 2011, according to centurycouncil.org.

The author, Walt Rooney, is Annie’s brother.

 

MADD donation site is here: 

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/annierooney/inhonorofannierooney

 

As Published July 6, 2013

Local attorney killed in crash

Rooney remembered for humor, positivity

Jul. 6, 2013

Written by Jona Ison, Gazette Staff Writer

CHILLICOTHE — Anna Rooney had been back in Chillicothe practicing law for less than a year when she died after being hit head-on along U.S. 50 Thursday night.

Known to her friends as Annie, there’s a common theme in how they remember the 36-year-old, no matter whether they knew her growing up in Chillicothe, during her time in college or in Montana, or even since her return home. Many messages on her Facebook page talk about her free spirit, her humor and her ability to light up a room.

“She was the one you looked at and (were) just amazed. You wanted to be like her, but you couldn’t figure out how,” said Ross County Common Pleas Judge Mike Ater.

Ater canceled court Friday morning in part because many involved in proceedings had trouble focusing after learning Rooney had died that morning at a Columbus hospital. Rooney had connections throughout the court system.

Although she was a prosecutor in Montana after graduating with a Juris Doctor degree from Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, she had been a legal intern for the Ross County public defender’s office. Last fall, Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt hired Rooney as an assistant prosecutor when Richard Clagg left.

Rooney knew the job was scheduled to run only through the end of the year, but it gave her a chance to get settled as she began building her private practice. Although no longer an assistant prosecutor, she rented office space in the same North Paint Street office for her private practice.

“She was someone who took her work seriously but was always upbeat and didn’t seem to get down about anything,” Schmidt said, adding that Rooney always was interested in people’s stories and where they were coming from. “She was somebody — it didn’t matter what side you were on — people liked her.”

“She was well-prepared and knew what she was talking about,” Ater said. “She had a bright future.”

Off the clock, Rooney often could be found doing something outdoorsy, likely running or riding a mountain bike. She recently became a certified yoga instructor, attracting clients from her expansive list of friends, including Schmidt’s and Ater’s wives.

Instead of seeing Rooney at the office Friday, Schmidt went to the scene of the crash that resulted in her death.

According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, Rooney’s 2005 Lincoln Navigator was eastbound on U.S. 50 when it was struck head-on by a westbound 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe that went left of center about a mile west of Slate Mills.

Rooney and the driver of the Tahoe, Shira B. Seymour, 36, were taken to Adena Medical Center and later transferred by ambulance to Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

The patrol reported Friday morning that Seymour was in critical condition, but Wexner did not have her listed as a patient as of 2:30 p.m., possibly because of privacy laws.

Fatal Accident on 50
Some debris and torn-up earth mark the spot Friday of a crash on U.S. 50 that claimed the life of a local attorney Thursday evening. / Brent Lewis/Gazette
CGO 0706 US 50 CRASH
Ms Rooney’s vehicle after Thursday night’s fatal crash shows damage on the driver’s side. A photo submitted by the Ohio Highway Patrol showed the other vehicle, which was overturned and apparently caught fire. / Ohio Highway Patrol

 Schmidt said he was told Seymour was in stable condition and had been conscious at the scene, where she briefly spoke with troopers. The patrol indicated alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash and has taken blood samples for testing.

“We believe the lab results will be very telling,” Schmidt said. “It’s certainly going to be a felony case.”

Online court records show Seymour does not have a felony record, but she has had at least three misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle impaired filed against her that were reduced in Chillicothe Municipal Court.

In 2008, Seymour pleaded guilty to physical control, which was reduced from OVI, and she had two OVI cases — one involving marijuana metabolites — that were dismissed in 2012 after she pleaded guilty to failure to control. She also had a 2011 hit-skip charge that was dismissed after she pleaded to failure to yield.

Law Director Sherri Rutherford was out of the office Friday, and further information about the cases were not immediately available.

Source: Front page article in the Chillicothe Gazette

 

The following was published on July 9, 2013.

Columbus Dispatch:

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/07/09/crash-victims-family-wants-stolen-bike-back.html

Crash victim’s family wants stolen bike back

The Columbus Dispatch, July 9, 2013

 The family of a Chillicothe woman killed in a car crash last week hopes to find the stolen bicycle that they say changed her fate.

Anna Rooney, 36, had recently developed a passion for mountain-bike racing. When someone used bolt cutters to steal two of Rooney’s bikes outside the German Village Guest House on Jaeger Street on June 30, she scrambled to borrow a bike for an upcoming race, said her brother, Walt Rooney, 42, of Seattle.

She had just picked up that bike from a friend in southern Ross County around 9:20 p.m. Thursday and was returning home along Rt. 50 when her Lincoln Navigator was struck by a Chevrolet Suburban that crossed into her lane, said Sgt. James Lott of the Chillicothe post of the State Highway Patrol.

Rooney and the driver of the Suburban, Shira Seymour, 36, of Bainbridge, were taken to Adena Medical Center in Chillicothe before being transferred to Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, Lott said. Rooney died early Friday.

If her bikes hadn’t been stolen, she wouldn’t have been on the road that night, Walt Rooney said. “Unfortunately, she just had to get that bike.”

One of Rooney’s stolen bikes was recovered earlier on Thursday at a central Ohio pawnshop, but the bike she used for races is still missing.

Walt Rooney said his family wants to find his sister’s bike to preserve her memory. “That bike was her new passion,” he said. “It just meant a lot to her and, therefore, it meant a lot to us.”

The missing mountain bike is dark-colored and the Santa Cruz brand, Walt Rooney said.

Anna Rooney grew up in Chillicothe and had recently moved back to start a private law practice after serving as a prosecutor in Montana, her brother said.

Police are investigating the crash. No charges have been filed, and Seymour is still in critical condition, Lott said.

A photo of Rooney’s stolen bike can be found on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/annie.rooney.50. Rooney’s family asked that anyone with information about the missing bike email: walt_rooney@hotmail.com

jsmola@dispatch.com

@jennsmola

 

 The following appeared on NBC news

http://www.nbc4i.com/story/22808757/relatives-remember-woman-killed-in-suspected-dui-crash#.UeCur0Y4_Wg.facebook

 

The following was published in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle

July 14, 2013

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/bozemandailychronicle/obituary.aspx?n=annie-rooney&pid=165811802#fbLoggedOut

Annie Rooney

Annie Rooney, long known to the Bozeman community, lost her life on July 5, 2013, from injuries sustained in a head-on collision with a suspected drunk driver. This accident occurred in Chillicothe, Ohio, Annie’s hometown. Annie moved to Chillicothe from Bozeman in 2012.

Annie first moved to Bozeman in 2001, working as a Bison Herder at Turner Enterprises. Annie then began postgraduate coursework in physics and chemistry at Montana State from 2002 to 2004.

Annie left Bozeman in 2004 to obtain a Juris Doctor degree at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. After graduating law school in 2007, Annie worked as an attorney around the Cincinnati area and her hometown of Chillicothe.

Annie returned to Bozeman in 2008 to work as an associate attorney with Christopher Gillette. From 2009 until 2011 Annie worked as a prosecutor for the City of Bozeman, focusing on prosecuting domestic violence cases.

Annie’s interest in law as a profession began while Annie was first living in Bozeman. She became aware of the positive impact one could have by enforcing the law to protect the citizens of a community. Prior to law school, Annie could be found at Montana State, where she raved about the physics and chemistry departments to anyone that would listen. Annie also worked for KGLT radio while studying at Montana State, where her love of music and the artists who created it could be fully realized.

While living away from Bozeman, Annie yearned to be back among the mountains in Montana. She returned to Bozeman in 2008 where she was reunited with her love of the outdoors. While mountain biking, skiing, running, doing yoga, or hosting a KGLT radio show, Annie created a vast network of mentors, friends, and admirers.

Professionally, Annie served the Bozeman community by prosecuting domestic violence cases. In 2009 Annie seemed to have met the perfect mentor: Judy Wang. Long known for her work prosecuting domestic violence cases in Missoula, Annie’s career focus began to take shape. Tragically Ms. Wang was killed in September of 2009, coming home from a domestic violence conference in Billings. Annie had spoken with Judy at that conference and Ms. Wang’s death affected her deeply.

Annie’s zest for life has been extensively documented at www.annierooney.com, her Facebook page, and her obituary that was published earlier in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Though living in Ohio at the time of her death, Annie never stopped thinking about her friends in Montana. Her many trips to the Flying D Ranch were invigorating and strenuous: she loved to run the many trails there to prepare for ski season. Her Montana network is vast and loving, the first sign erected at the crash site in Ohio said: “Montana Loves You, Annie.”

Annie’s family remembers her many stories about Montana, and all the characters in her tribe that embodied her same sense of adventure. Her friends sought Montana for many of the same reasons she did: the majestic beauty of the land and the powerful spirit of its people. Her Montana friends have demonstrated their love for her to her family, as they continue to grieve the sudden loss of their precious Annie.

For those of you wishing to celebrate Annie’s life, please join friends and family in a memorial gathering on Saturday July 20, 2013, where the sharing of memorable Annie stories will be encouraged. Buses will be providing transportation from the parking garage on East Mendenhall Street to the memorial site at 2 p.m. and returning at approximately 6 p.m. If attending, please R.S.V.P. at smallandchubby4ever@gmail.com, in order to ensure that adequate transportation is available.

In lieu of gifts or flowers, please make donations to Haven, Gallatin Valley’s nonprofit serving victims of domestic violence. Checks can be made out to HAVEN and addressed to: HAVEN, P.O. Box 752, Bozeman, MT 59771.

Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on July 14, 2013

 

annie

 Memorial contributions may be made to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Rooney Family
2422 Plyley’s Lane
Chillicothe, Ohio, 45601