Thursday, April 17th, 2008
Woman pleads no contest for traffic offense violations
By Margie Wuebker
A 20-year-old Miami County woman has pleaded no contest to charges stemming from an April 2007 traffic accident that injured several of her passengers.
Nicole D. Swier of Piqua appeared in Mercer County Common Pleas Court last week and entered the plea to a bill of information charging her with operating a vehicle under the influence and negligent assault. Sentencing will take place May 7.
As part of a negotiated agreement, Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Matt Fox dismissed felony charges of aggravated vehicular assault and vehicular assault contained in the original indictment. The offenses listed in the bill of information are misdemeanors.
Swier, who is represented by Miami County attorney Jose Lopez, signed a stipulation of facts admitting she had been drinking the night of the April 13, 2007, crash at the intersection of state Routes 119 and U.S. 127, west of Maria Stein.
Her car was the second in a caravan reportedly heading to a bachelorette party in St. Henry. The lead vehicle stopped westbound at the state Route 119 stop sign before proceeding into the intersection.
Investigators believe Swier, who was not familiar with the intersection, assumed it was a four-way stop. She stopped and then drove into the intersection, where her car was struck broadside by a southbound 2006 International tractor-trailer, according to Mercer County Sheriff's Office reports.
The indictment, handed down Oct. 19 by a Mercer County grand jury, alleged Swier recklessly operated a 2003 Ford Focus and caused serious physical harm to a passenger, 19-year-old Megan Jackson of Piqua, as well as herself.
Jackson was ejected upon impact with the car spinning in the roadway. The rig, operated by 51-year-old Joseph F. Wilson of Stow, veered off the right side of the pavement and traveled through the ditch before coming to rest in a nearby field.
All occupants of the car, including 19-year-old Patricia R. Shatterfiels of Piqua, as well as the truck driver were taken by ambulances to Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater. Jackson was transferred by CareFlight emergency helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, where she was admitted to the intensive care unit in critical condition. The others received less serious injuries.
As part of the negotiated agreement, Fox requested the defendant undergo an alcohol evaluation. He also reserved the right to argue prior to sentencing.