No jail time for driver behind 'terrible tragedy' that killed 3 in Carroll County (2024)

Nancy MolnarCanton Repository

CARROLLTON ‒ Family members of three people killed in a head-on traffic crash last year asked a judge not to punish the man found legally responsible for their deaths.

Carroll County Municipal Judge Gary L. Willen showed Douglas R. Mackey the mercy requested by surviving family members of Randy Simmons, 60, Tina Shetler, 18, and Kenneth Shetler, 16.

During Wednesday's sentencing hearing he fined the Beloit-area man $630, gave him a suspended jail sentence, placed him on probation for three years, and ordered him to perform 50 hours of community service and continue receiving counseling.

Willen suspended Mackey's license for five years, but granted privileges to drive for counseling and doctors' appointments.

The judge read a letter from Randy Simmons' wife, Cindy. "I know that Mr. Mackey did not intend to cause harm to anyone and I forgive him. I pray he is alleviated of the burden of guilt. I ask this court to show mercy and compassion for Mr. Mackey in this criminal matter."

Willen said Delbert and Elsie Shetler, parents of the teens, indicated in their statements that they know that no one planned or wanted the accident to happen.

"They really make a point of not wanting anything else as far as this criminal matter to cause you any other problems," Willen said. They cited the fact that Mackey had worked for only a week or so for the company that owned the truck he was driving at the time the crash occurred.

Judge Willen: 'I hope that gives you great solace, sir'

"As they say, you're suffering greatly from it as much as they are. I hold great stock in what the victim's family wants and what they desire," WIllen said. "I hope that gives you great solace, sir."

Willen said an Ohio State Highway Patrol investigation and analysis indicated that a wear pattern on the truck's left front tire showed the front wheel alignment and camber adjustment were not correct. Investigators found the unsafe condition of the vehicle contributed to the crash.

Mackey, 55, previously pleaded no contest to three counts of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, driving left-of- center, driving an unsafe vehicle and a seat belt violation. He was found guilty.

Simmons, of East Liverpool, and his teen passengers, both of Hammondsville, were killed in the April 10, 2023 crash along state Route 542 near Dellroy. The teens' father, Delbert Shetler, was also a passenger in the van that was hit by the 2001 Ford F-650 truck Mackey was driving.

Carroll County Prosecutor said Steven D. Barnett said families of the victims gave written statements and chose not to attend Wednesday's sentencing.

Defense attorney: 'A terrible tragedy'

"Your honor, this is just a terrible tragedy," said defense attorney Jeffrey Jakmides. "It's very moving to read the letters written by the families of the victims forgiving Mr. Mackey, indicating they don't want any punishment.

"It's such an unusual set of circ*mstances. He's hired to cut wood," Jakmides said. "And on that particular day, his employer told him to drive the truck, so he did. The truck was not properly maintained. It had a problem with its front end. It gave out on the road.

"He did everything he could to keep that truck in lane, pulled on the emergency brake, laid on the seat to try and move the vehicle over, but nothing. That vehicle just simply didn't respond due to that defect."

Mackey said he tried to steer the truck back into the right lane, without success.

"If I'd have known the truck was in that bad a shape, I'd have never drove it. But I got told, 'Oh, it's fine. You could drive it.' So I did it. And I'm sorry for it every day," Mackey said.

The truck belonged to a tree service near where it crashed.

"I'd like to apologize to the families first, and then the court system for having to go through this," Mackey said. "Me and Delbert, we speak every day. I tried to save his kids. It was a bad situation."

He described his efforts, rolling Tina over, cleaning the blood from her mouth, and holding her up. He said he tried to get Kenneth out, but he was stuck.

"I couldn't do nothing for him, but I did try," Mackey said. "Randy, sorry to say, it took him instantly."

Driver says bystanders shot video

Mackey said that one boy and one man helped him at the crash scene but other bystanders were recording videos.

"Everybody wanted to get it on tape, but nobody wanted to put their hands on, afraid they'd get in trouble," Mackey said.

He said he would give his life for the people who died to be alive.

"I'd have rather it been me than them," Mackey. "I'd have rather it not happen at all."

Jakmides said the families of the victims pray with and for Mackey.

"That's the only thing, frankly, that has comforted Mr. Mackey throughout this ordeal, is prayer and the prayer of the families of the innocent people that lost their lives. It's meant an awful lot to him," Jakmides said. "And it's frankly the only thing that's really got him through this because it's just tortured him."

Vehicular manslaughter: Beloit man charged in fatal Carroll County crash

Plea: Driver of unsafe truck guilty of killing 3 people in head-on Carroll County crash

Reach Nancy at 330-580-8382 or X, formerly known as Twitter: @nmolnarTR.

No jail time for driver behind 'terrible tragedy' that killed 3 in Carroll County (2024)
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