By Shelley Grieshop
A 42-year-old Willshire man faces up to six years in prison following a traffic accident in 2004 that claimed the lives of two northern Mercer County residents.
Carey Hamrick, 155 Frank Road, pleaded no contest last week to amended indictment charges of leaving the scene of a fatal accident, a third-degree felony, and vehicular homicide and vehicular assault, both first-degree misdemeanors. This is the third time his plea has changed.
A sentence hearing is set for April 19 in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court. Hamrick also faces a maximum $12,000 in fines and a lifetime operator's license suspension.
The charges stem from a fatal accident Dec. 26, 2004, on state Route 49 near the village of Willshire. Hamrick drove his truck left of center and head-on into a car driven by Rockford resident Rachel Wolfe, then 22, according to a report from the Van Wert County Sheriff's office.
Two passengers in Wolfe's car, her husband, Will P. Wolfe, 26, and Brian E. Schug, Willshire, also 26, were pronounced dead at the scene. Rachel Wolfe was hospitalized with serious injuries. Hamrick fled the scene but hours later turned himself in to the sheriff's office. He submitted to blood-alcohol and drug tests, but those results have not been made public.
Hamrick first pleaded not guilty to the original indictment charges in February 2005. Then, in a plea bargain with Special Prosecutor Kris Poppe, Hamrick pleaded no contest to the amended charges and was set for sentencing in January. But at the sentence hearing he submitted information stating he had a medical condition called hypoglycemia (low-blood glucose) that may have contributed to his actions the day of the accident.
The judge refused to accept Hamrick's no contest plea due to the medical condition Hamrick claimed and withdrew the no contest plea from record. The judge reverted Hamrick's plea back to not guilty and set a trial that was set to commence next week.
However, last week Hamrick agreed to withdraw the medical information from the case and again offered a plea of no contest to the amended charges. The plea was accepted by the judge.