Here’s an absolutely appalling story of a truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel, killed a woman and left her son with permanent brain damage in a wheelchair. The husband of the woman who was killed actually helped get the guy released from prison, and this is how he’s repaid: By being told that it wasn’t the driver’s fault, it was God’s will.
A year after the crash, Bouch, now 52, was indicted on one count of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault. He pleaded guilty to all counts three months later in state court in Ravenna.
At the sentencing hearing in January 2012, Slattery wanted Portage County Judge John Enlow to send a message to the trucking industry. Slattery told a packed courtroom that Bouch deserved prison. Enlow sentenced Bouch to five years…
Amid Bouch’s suffering, he got a typed letter from Slattery, who said he was “a bit surprised at how stiff the penalty was.” He hoped Bouch would join him in telling the industry to “stop the killing and maiming.”
Slattery said he was angry with Bouch, yet forgave him. “How can we reconcile between ourselves and how can we make a positive difference in the world?” Slattery wrote. “We are inextricably bound now. Let’s make something good out of it.”
Bouch wrote back to say he was sorry at “having been involved in such an accident.” Slattery responded by chastising Bouch for not taking full responsibility.
“Say ‘I’m sorry,’ make amends and move on,” Slattery wrote. “Making amends for you is tough. You can’t undo the consequences of your actions.” He closed: “I forgive you. Susan’s family forgives you. Now, begin to forgive yourself.”
Bouch wrote back to Slattery in small, neat print.
“My having been involved in such a horrific accident haunts me constantly,” Bouch wrote. “You simply can’t understand how sincere my sorrow truly is. I can’t apologize enough to make you feel any better, but I pray you, your sons, and your family will accept one from the bottom of my heart.”Slattery then wrote to Judge Enlow to urge Bouch’s release from prison so that he could “return to his family and begin to pick up the pieces of his life.”
Bouch was released after serving less than half his term. And then:
Bouch, who had a goatee and wore large aviator glasses, said he still has nightmares about the accident. He said he didn’t fall asleep before the crash.
“I signed the accident report but I didn’t write it and I didn’t read it,” Bouch said. “What’s in it is not the truth. When a police officer said could I give a statement, I said, ‘Sure, I had nothing to hide.’ I had nothing to fear.”
He put blame for the accident on Susan Slattery.
“Susan made a choice,” he said. “She made a choice to pass me on the right, she made a choice to cut back in front of me. When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to get stopped, I had to choose where to put the truck.”
Nothing in the accident report supports Bouch’s claim about Susan Slattery’s driving.
In any case, the crash was unavoidable, he said.
“There wasn’t anything I could have done, there wasn’t anything I should have done. But Ed Slattery had a choice, and he pushed and pushed and pushed for my incarceration. He chose to ruin my life, he chose to ruin my family.”
God, the ultimate excuse. No matter what you do, it can be chalked up to God’s will. You were powerless to do anything to stop it.