LIMA — Unbeknownst to John Robinson, his whereabouts were being tracked minute-by-minute in the hours before he crashed his Ford F-350 pickup truck head-on into a Michigan family returning home from Walt Disney World, leaving a 15-year-old boy dead.
In the approximately six hours before he drove the wrong way down an exit ramp and onto Interstate 75 in Beaverdam on May 2, 2018, the Arizona man had consumed six beers, all with alcohol content of 7% or higher, at bars in Lima and Beaverdam. The last three beers, according to testimony, were consumed in the two hours immediately prior to the crash that killed 15-year-old Christopher Watson, of Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Wednesday marked the second day of testimony in the trial of Robinson, who has indicted by a grand jury following the fatal crash 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. Court records list Robinson’s address as Phoenix, Arizona.
Joshua Schlosser, a transportation manager at Lima Transport and the owner of a trucking company located on Lincoln Highway near Cairo, told jurors he had hired Robinson as an over-the-road truck driver at Lima Transport. Schlosser also told jurors he was in the process of selling to Robinson a Ford F-350 pickup truck titled to his wife.
Schlosser said he got a phone call from Robinson shortly after midnight on May 2 from the crash scene.
“He (Robinson) was saying, ‘Mayday, Mayday’ and said he had been in a head-on accident and that there were maybe fatalities. I asked him if he had been drinking and he said yes, that he’d had three beers,” Schlosser testified. “He sounded intoxicated or not in his right mind.”
Also testifying was Gerald Gibson, a plainclothes investigator with the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Gibson followed Robinson’s path for jurors, relying for information on the GPS device Schlosser had installed on the Ford pickup truck. He said the Phoenix man stopped at Vino Belissimo in Lima, where testimony on Tuesday indicated he drank three beers. After leaving the Lima bar, Robinson saw a movie at Regal Cinema in Lima before heading north to Thirsty’s Food and Spirits in Beaverdam, where he drank two more beers.
Two troopers from the Lima post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol who spoke to Robinson at the crash scene each described Robinson as having slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol on his person.
Trooper Steven Posada said Robinson “was adamant that the crash was not his fault and told me that his GPS device had led him to travel the wrong way on an exit ramp to I-75.”
Some jurors were visibly shaken while listening to a 911 call placed to an Allen County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher by the OnStar system in the rental car driven by Richard Watson. During the call, Watson was heard describing the scene for dispatchers while screams and cries coming from passengers in his car could be heard in the background.
“Stay with me,” Watson told one of his family members before telling the dispatcher “my son is not alert.”
Watson was driving the Ford Explorer carrying his wife and four children home from their family vacation.
The state plans to wrap up its case Thursday morning when Lucas County Coroner Diane Scala-Barrett takes the witness stand.