LIMA — Jurors in the trial of John Robinson, an Arizona truck driver charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and killing a Michigan boy by driving the wrong way on Interstate 75 near Beaverdam more than 18 months ago, heard testimony Tuesday from two bartenders who served the man alcoholic beverages in the hours before the crash.
Ashley Hartman, who was employed on May 2, 2018, at Vino Belissimo on Cable Court in Lima, testified that between the hours of approximately 5 and 6:50 p.m. that day Robinson consumed three draft beers — all of which featured an alcohol content level of 14%.
Later that evening Robinson found himself at Thirsty’s Food and Spirits on East Main Street in Beaverdam, where employee Ashlee Plaugher told jurors she served three more beers to the Phoenix man in a little over an hour later that evening.
The bar’s time stamp on Robinson’s credit card bill indicated he paid for his drinks at 11:30 p.m., approximately 15 minutes before police and prosecutors claim the Phoenix truck driver climbed into his semi rig — under the influence of alcohol — and began to travel southbound in the northbound lane of I-75.
Robinson’s semi struck a northbound Ford Explorer driven by Richard Watson of Ypsilanti, Michigan, whose family was on the final leg of a vacation to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The crash killed Christopher M. Watson, 15, and injured three of Watson’s other children who were passengers in the car. Watson’s wife, Deena Frye, also suffered serious physical injuries.
Watson also took the witness stand Tuesday and recounted the horrific sequence of events. Fighting back tears, the Michigan man said that he was traveling along I-75 near Beaverdam at around 11:45 p.m. on May 2, 2018, when “out of nowhere there were bright lights coming at me. I did my best to swerve out of the way … but it was too late.”
His son, Christopher, did not survive the vehicle’s impact with the oncoming semi.
Robinson was indicted by a grand jury on one second-degree felony count of aggravated vehicular homicide; four third-degree felony counts of aggravated vehicular assault; and two counts of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, first-degree misdemeanors.
Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Sturgill, in his opening statements, said testimony in the trial will show that Robinson was drunk at the time of the crash.
A report by the Ohio State Highway Patrol said Robinson had “an odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from his breath” and admitted he had consumed alcohol earlier in the evening. A blood test taken at a Lima hospital following the crash also showed the Arizona man had a blood alcohol content of .13%, said Sturgill.
Testimony in the trial will resume Wednesday morning.