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The Suburbanite
  • Driver charged in death of woman walking from jail

  • Richard Schreckengost Jr. will face charges of leaving accident scene and vehicular manslaughter.

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  • The motorist accused of hitting and killing a woman walking along U.S. Route 62 thought his SUV struck a deer, his attorney says.
    Richard A. Schreckengost Jr. is scheduled to appear Thursday morning in Municipal Court.
    He is charged with a felony count of leaving the scene of an accident, as well as misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter, speeding, failure to control and violating marked lanes.
    “He feels great, great sorrow for this woman, and her friends and family,” said defense attorney Christopher Newlon.
    Authorities say Schreckengost, 30, of 7660 Tabernacle St. NW in Nimishillen Township, was driving east on Route 62 on July 7 when he went off the right side of the marked roadway and struck Heather K. Smith with his gray 2001 Chevy Tahoe SUV, throwing her more than 100 feet.
    The crash happened around 1:45 a.m., west of Kirby Avenue NE, according court filings.
    Smith, 29, of Uhrichsville, was walking west, outside the marked roadway and facing oncoming traffic, said City Prosecutor Ty Hauritz.
    Smith had been taken to the Stark County Jail hours earlier on a warrant and signed the paperwork necessary for her release. She left around 1:25 a.m. after trying to arrange for a ride. Her body was found later in the morning.
    Based on the crash reconstruction and data from the SUV, Schreckengost was driving 65 mph in a 55 mph zone, Hauritz said.
    The prosecutor said he had no evidence that Schreckengost was texting or using drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.
    Since the crash involved a fatality, leaving the scene is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.
    Schreckengost gave a statement to the police, but Hauritz said he couldn’t discuss what was said.
    Newlon, the defense attorney, said Schreckengost was driving home from a friend’s house.
    “He did not know that he hit this woman,” Newlon said.
    Schreckengost thought he hit a deer and stopped his truck after the airbags deployed, but didn’t see anyone, Newlon said. Later that day, after learning someone had died, he immediately contacted police and has been cooperative since, the defense attorney said.
    “It’s not a hit-skip accident, it’s not a leaving-the-scene accident,” Newlon said.