A Westerville man who pleaded “no contest” to failing to take action to avoid a collision that killed an Australian teenager in an August 2015 boating accident at Alum Creek Lake was fined and sentenced to 30 days in jail Wednesday afternoon in Delaware Municipal Court.
Andrew Lehman, 36, of Worthington Road, Westerville, pleaded no contest to the charge at a hearing on May 3 in Delaware Municipal Court. Municipal Judge Marianne Hemmeter accepted his plea and found him guilty on the charge of failure to take action to avoid collision, which is a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
After reviewing a pre-sentence report about Lehman and hearing statements from the family of the 19-year-old victim, Morgan Montgomery, Hemmeter sentenced Lehman to 30 days in the Delaware County Jail, a fine of $250, 200 hours of community service and two years of probation.
A condition of Lehman’s probation is that he not consume drugs or alcohol. Hemmeter said that Lehman had alcohol in his urine when a sample was taken after the accident.
Hemmeter suspended 10 days of the sentence and said Lehman might have to serve them if he violates the terms of his probation.
Lehman was taken into custody by deputies from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office to begin serving his sentence as soon as the hearing ended.
Last Aug. 2, Montgomery was water-skiing with a summer camp group when she fell into the water. As the camp’s boat circled back to pick her up, the boat that Lehman was operating struck Montgomery, killing her, prosecutors told Hemmeter at the hearing in May.
Montgomery’s father, Martin Montgomery, spoke to the court from Australia and told Lehman how his actions had affected his family.
“Your actions have impacted our family in a devastating way,” Martin Montgomery told Lehman. “Your error has left you in a difficult position and left us with a huge hole in our lives. As much as it hurts, I can understand an inadvertent error. I can’t understand your denial.”
Delaware City Prosecutor Elizabeth Matune told Hemmeter that during a pre-sentence interview Lehman said he didn’t think he could have done anything differently.
“He doesn’t get it,” Matune told Hemmeter. Matune made no recommendation for a sentence and asked Hemmeter to sentence Lehman to whatever she considered appropriate.
“Running over [Morgan] and killing her was thoughtless, reckless and dangerous to the point of fatal, but inadvertent,” Martin Montgomery said. “Your denial is not inadvertent. It’s our response to our mistakes that declares our character. … You are an insult to our injury.”
Lehman’s attorney, Adam Nemann, said that Lehman wanted to give a statement but was advised not to because of an ongoing civil suit regarding the matter. Nemann said Lehman was “extremely remorseful.”
The hearing was scheduled at 4:30 p.m. so Martin Montgomery and his family could get up at 5:30 a.m. to speak to the court.
Prosecutors said a condition of a plea agreement with Lehman is that the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office will not take the case to a county grand jury to seek felony charges.
Three other charges against Lehman — reckless operation, failure to travel at a safe speed and failure to keep proper look-out, all misdemeanor charges — were dismissed under the plea agreement.
Lehman was originally charged on Jan. 7.