Local attorney killed in crash

Rooney remembered for humor, positivity

Jul. 6, 2013
Written by Jona Ison, Gazette Staff Writer

CHILLICOTHE — Anna Rooney had been back in Chillicothe practicing law for less than a year when she died after being hit head-on along U.S. 50 Thursday night.

Known to her friends as Annie, there’s a common theme in how they remember the 36-year-old, no matter whether they knew her growing up in Chillicothe, during her time in college or in Montana, or even since her return home. Many messages on her Facebook page talk about her free spirit, her humor and her ability to light up a room.

“She was the one you looked at and (were) just amazed. You wanted to be like her, but you couldn’t figure out how,” said Ross County Common Pleas Judge Mike Ater.

Ater canceled court Friday morning in part because many involved in proceedings had trouble focusing after learning Rooney had died that morning at a Columbus hospital. Rooney had connections throughout the court system.

Although she was a prosecutor in Montana after graduating with a Juris Doctor degree from Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, she had been a legal intern for the Ross County public defender’s office. Last fall, Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt hired Rooney as an assistant prosecutor when Richard Clagg left.

Rooney knew the job was scheduled to run only through the end of the year, but it gave her a chance to get settled as she began building her private practice. Although no longer an assistant prosecutor, she rented office space in the same North Paint Street office for her private practice.

“She was someone who took her work seriously but was always upbeat and didn’t seem to get down about anything,” Schmidt said, adding that Rooney always was interested in people’s stories and where they were coming from. “She was somebody — it didn’t matter what side you were on — people liked her.”

“She was well-prepared and knew what she was talking about,” Ater said. “She had a bright future.”

Off the clock, Rooney often could be found doing something outdoorsy, likely running or riding a mountain bike. She recently became a certified yoga instructor, attracting clients from her expansive list of friends, including Schmidt’s and Ater’s wives.

Instead of seeing Rooney at the office Friday, Schmidt went to the scene of the crash that resulted in her death.

According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, Rooney’s 2005 Lincoln Navigator was eastbound on U.S. 50 when it was struck head-on by a westbound 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe that went left of center about a mile west of Slate Mills.

Rooney and the driver of the Tahoe, Shira B. Seymour, 36, were taken to Adena Medical Center and later transferred by ambulance to Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

The patrol reported Friday morning that Seymour was in critical condition, but Wexner did not have her listed as a patient as of 2:30 p.m., possibly because of privacy laws.

Schmidt said he was told Seymour was in stable condition and had been conscious at the scene, where she briefly spoke with troopers. The patrol indicated alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash and has taken blood samples for testing.

“We believe the lab results will be very telling,” Schmidt said. “It’s certainly going to be a felony case.”

Online court records show Seymour does not have a felony record, but she has had at least three misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle impaired filed against her that were reduced in Chillicothe Municipal Court.

In 2008, Seymour pleaded guilty to physical control, which was reduced from OVI, and she had two OVI cases — one involving marijuana metabolites — that were dismissed in 2012 after she pleaded guilty to failure to control. She also had a 2011 hit-skip charge that was dismissed after she pleaded to failure to yield.

Law Director Sherri Rutherford was out of the office Friday, and further information about the cases were not immediately available.

Front page article in the Chillicothe Gazette: http://www.chillicothegazette.com/article/20130705/NEWS01/307050006/Local-attorney-killed-crash?nclick_check=1

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