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Details of fatal Salem accident slowly emerge

November 15, 2012
Salem News

SALEM - City Police Det. Dave Talbert said the investigation into a hit-and-run Friday night which killed a 9-year-old girl is progressing as he continues to interview and re-interview witnesses.

Olivia Thompson, a fourth grader at Reilly Elementary School, was laid to rest Tuesday as family members and friends said their last goodbyes at the First United Methodist Church.

In a courtroom in Lisbon Tuesday morning, the man accused of hitting her with his pickup on State Street in downtown Salem made his initial appearance. Todd R. Roberts, 27, of 375 E. Main St., Washingtonville, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in a death, a third-degree felony.

He was arraigned on the charge and a preliminary hearing has been set for 3 p.m. Monday in Columbiana County Municipal Court. He's out of jail on a bond.

According to Talbert, a preliminary report from the Summit County Coroner's Office confirmed that Olivia died as a result of the accident. She had initially been taken to Salem Community Hospital the night of the accident and was taken by medical helicopter to Akron Children's Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries Saturday morning.

Talbert asked that if anyone was in the downtown area Friday night and saw something, he urged them to call police and let him know what they saw that evening. Any potential witnesses should call and asked for Talbert at 330-337-6001.

He's working with Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Todd Jester, who's an accident reconstructionist, and items of evidence from the scene, the coroner's office and the pickup truck have been submitted to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The black Chevy S-10 pickup belonging to Roberts remains in the custody of police.

Talbert said previously that any further charges will be reviewed by the county grand jury. The third-degree felony against Roberts alleges that he "did knowingly operate a motor vehicle, having knowledge of an accident or collision that resulted in the death of another person, failed to stop after the accident or collision."

The charge carries a possible prison sentence of one to five years upon conviction.

Police officers were called to the 500 block of East State Street at 9:20 p.m. Friday for a vehicle/pedestrian accident, learning that a young girl had been struck by a vehicle described as a black pickup which continued traveling east, fleeing the scene. Witnesses indicated to police that the pickup had been seen coming through the Lundy Avenue intersection recklessly.

According to Talbert, all indications were that the victim was not in the crosswalk. He confirmed that Olivia was spending the night at a former neighbor's home on Third Street and she and her 14-year-old friend were going to Dollar General to get some pop to go with a pizza. The store was closed, so they were crossing the street to go to Quaker Village, which is located at the corner of South Lincoln Avenue and Pershing Street.

He said the 14-year-old girl indicated during an interview that she was nearly hit by the pickup.

In a court affidavit, Talbert said Roberts called 911 Saturday morning at 7:16 a.m. to report he was involved in the accident. Salem Police responded to his residence in Washingtonville and located his pickup in the garage, with Roberts granting "consent for the police department to 'search and seize' the vehicle."

The affidavit said evidence recovered confirmed the vehicle was involved in the crash and during an interview, Roberts allegedly admitted to being the operator of the vehicle "and was aware that a pedestrian had been struck and that the vehicle sustained operable damage."

Roberts was taken into custody Saturday evening after being asked to respond to the police station for a second interview.

Talbert would not go into detail about what was said during the interviews or about the evidence.

According to Mahoning County Court records accessed online, Roberts was fined for a traffic control device violation in February this year and for speeding in January this year. He was found guilty of a reduced charge after being cited for operating a vehicle under the influence in July 2008 and was fined for failure to control in April 2008. A charge of endangering children in May 2008 was dismissed.

In Columbiana County Municipal Court, according to records accessed online, he was found guilty of OVI first offense in 2006, along with charges of child restraint and no seat belt. He also had some speeding offenses and was found guilty of disorderly conduct in 2004.

 
 

 

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