A Westerville man pleaded “no contest” in Delaware Municipal Court to a charge of failing to take action to avoid a collision after prosecutors said he was involved in an August 2015 boating accident at Alum Creek Lake that killed an Australian teenager.
Andrew Lehman, 36, of 6259 Worthington Road, Westerville, appeared before Delaware Municipal Judge Marianne Hemmeter on Tuesday for a plea hearing where he entered a no-contest plea to one of four charges he was facing — failure to take action to avoid collision, which is a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
The other three charges — reckless operation, failure to travel at a safe speed and failure to keep proper look-out, all misdemeanor charges — were dismissed.
Last Aug. 2, Morgan Montgomery, 19, 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.
Crews searched for her body into the night on Aug. 2 but had to call off the search when it became unsafe. Montgomery’s body was recovered the following day by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in an area north of the beach and south of the marina.
Hemmeter found Lehman guilty of the charge and ordered a pre-sentence investigation be conducted. Hemmeter said the charge can carry a fine of up to 30 days in jail and she will decide what is appropriate.
A sentencing date has not been scheduled. Hemmeter said it may take more than a month before the sentencing hearing is conducted.
Prosecutors said a condition of the plea agreement with Lehman is that the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office will not be taking the case to a grand jury to seek felony charges.
Prosecutors added that Montgomery’s family was consulted on the agreement and said they would either being flying to Ohio for the sentencing or would be speaking via video conferencing.
Lehman was originally charged on Jan. 7 and scheduled for a trial Tuesday.
Montgomery was reportedly wearing a life jacket when she was hit. A memorial service was held on Alum Creek the following weekend.
ODNR officials said that Lehman had fully cooperated with the investigation.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.