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Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Rockford man gets 11 years for deadly crash

By Margie Wuebker
CELINA - A Rockford man with a history of drunken driving convictions was sentenced on Wednesday to 11 years in prison for charges stemming from a 2013 traffic crash that killed his friend.
Eddy P. Blossom, 28, 109 N. Franklin St., made a tearful apology to the victim's family prior to sentencing in Mercer County Common Pleas Court. He was granted permission to face the parents of 24-year-old Justin Hamrick and tearfully read from a prepared statement.
"Words can't express the sorrow and guilt I feel for the pain and suffering that I have caused you and your family," he said. "I wish I could change what happened or at the very least have taken his place."
Adding that nothing will bring the victim back, Blossom voiced the hope that being able to use the tragedy to help others would prevent another family from experiencing the misery he caused.
Judge Jeffrey Ingraham imposed five years in prison for aggravated vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony, and three years for operating a vehicle under the influence, a third-degree felony. Blossom received another three years for having at least three previous OVI convictions.
Ingraham ordered the sentences to run consecutively due to the danger Blossom poses to the public. The judge also imposed a mandatory $1,350 fine and a lifetime driving suspension.
Defense attorney Ross Finke later said his client would be eligible for judicial release after serving eight years and 60 days.
Blossom pleaded no contest to the charges on June 25.
The victim's mother, Susan Hamrick, in court recalled a knock on her home at 5 a.m. Aug. 25, 2013.
She went to the door expecting to find her son had again locked his keys in the car. Instead a uniformed deputy was there with news of the accident; she knew immediately that her son was dead, she said.
Scoffing at the use of the word "friend" in reference to Blossom, she added, "A friend doesn't drive drunk with his friend in the car. A friend doesn't blame a friend for something he did."
Speaking softly, she shared her mother's intuition about Blossom not being a good influence on her son.
"I didn't want Justin going down the same road as the defendant is on," she said. "His reply was 'Everybody deserves a second chance mom.' Well that second chance cost him his life."
Jack Hamrick told the court his son should be alive today, pointing out witnesses heard and saw him attempt to take Blossom's keys the night of the accident.
"Those keys in Eddy Blossom's hands represented life and death - my boy's life or my boy's death," the grieving father said. "He sentenced Justin to death when he refused to hand over the keys to him. This accident did not have to happen, but it was inevitable ... bound to happen because the defendant's criminal history dictated it would."
He paused before adding, "Eddy Blossom needs to be isolated from society so that he does not get behind the wheel of another vehicle and take the life of some other parent's son or daughter."
Ingraham thanked the Hamricks for their comments and acknowledged the courage needed to come forward. He added the law cannot alleviate their pain because the purpose and principles of sentencing laws are to punish the offender and protect the public.
The single-vehicle crash occurred along U.S. 33, southeast of Rockford. According to the sheriff's office report, Blossom was driving a 2002 Jeep Liberty westbound at a high rate of speed when it traveled off the pavement for an unknown reason and through a side ditch before striking a tree and bursting into flames. Hamrick was pronounced dead at the scene.
Blossom, who reportedly received serious injuries, was initially taken to Joint Township District Hospital in St. Marys and later transferred to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.
The sheriff's office report stated Blossom's blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident was .165 - more than double the legal limit of .08.
Blossom also did not have a valid operator's license when the fatal crash occurred, according to the report.
Blossom was issued a five-year operator's license suspension on Sept. 22, 2011, for an OVI conviction in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court. At the time, Judge Charles Steele sentenced him to a six-month stay at the WORTH Center in Lima and three years supervision.
Court records indicate Blossom violated probation and Steele sentenced him again on Jan. 29, 2013, to nine months in prison with credit for 209 days already served.
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections lists Blossom's prison release date as April 12, 2013 - four months before the fatal crash.
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