Report: Alcohol factored in crash that killed local attorney

Charges pending in July collision

Written by
Jona Ison
Gazette Staff Writer
August 14, 2013

CHILLICOTHE — Charges are still pending in a crash that killed a local attorney July 4, but a report released this week alleges the other driver told troopers she had “plenty” to drink before the crash.

Shira B. Seymour, 36, of Bainbridge, remains hospitalized from injuries sustained in the head-on crash on U.S. 50 that killed Anna Rooney, 36, Ross County Prosecutor Matt Schmidt said. The Ohio Highway Patrol reported, at the time of the crash, that it suspected alcohol to be a factor but did not divulge what led troopers to think Seymour might have been drinking that night.

The patrol’s investigative report said that although Seymour sustained several injuries to her face and body, including multiple broken bones, she was conscious and briefly spoke to a trooper after the crash, which occurred just west of Slate Mills. Her Chevrolet Tahoe had overturned and caught fire after colliding with Rooney’s Lincoln Navigator.

The trooper reportedly noticed a strong smell of alcohol on Seymour and asked how much alcohol she had consumed. She responded “plenty,” according to the report. She also reportedly admitted to drinking at a Chillicothe bar and restaurant and remembered nothing from the crash except seeing the lights of another vehicle.

According to the report and attached lab results, Seymour’s blood tested at an alcohol level of 0.190, which is almost twice the legal limit of 0.096 for blood/plasma.

No charges have been filed against Seymour, but Schmidt said prosecutors will be presenting the case to a grand jury for indictment on felony charges.

“The suspect is still hospitalized with some pretty substantial injuries, so we probably won’t proceed (to indictment) right away until she’s recovered some. … We’re continuing to put the case together,” he said.

Rooney’s autopsy and toxicology report is one item pending.

According to the report, Rooney was trapped and unconscious in her Lincoln and was finally freed from the vehicle about 90 minutes after rescue crews arrived. Both women were taken to Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, and Rooney died at 1:26 a.m. July 5, about four hours after the crash.

Schmidt said his office has asked for additional information, including a drug screening of Seymour’s blood. According to the alcohol analysis report from the patrol’s lab, it screens for drugs only if the alcohol results come back with blood alcohol levels less than 0.170 unless it is otherwise requested to screen for drugs.

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 an operating a vehicle impaired, 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.

Seymour’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles driving history shows she had an OVI conviction out of Athens Municipal Court in 1997. The report also indicates she’s had her license suspended three times — from Jan. 4, 1997, to Jan. 24, 1997, which was modified to March 27, 1997, and March 12, 2008, to March 12, 2009, both of which were considered an administrative license suspension. The most recent suspension was an overlapping non-compliance and financial responsibility suspension from July 18, 2008, to July 18, 2011.

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