Teenage cyclist testifies in fatal accident trial | News, Sports, Jobs


LISBON — Soldiers testified for most of Wednesday regarding evidence in the fatal hit-and-run case against Donald White, but the day began with moving testimony from a 15-year-old eyewitness.

The Columbiana freshman was 14 when he and his close friend, 13-year-old Aidan Wollman, spent October 23, 2021 together at Maze Craze, drove to a friend’s house, then cycled to another friend’s house in the Leetonia Region.

They had been friends since fifth grade, rode bikes around town, played video games together, and talked often.

When they returned to Columbiana on State Route 164, it was getting dark. He said they were driving on the right side when he heard the truck coming and told Aidan to pull over to the side of the road.

Aidan was about 10 feet ahead of him when he said the truck “swerved around me and went straight into it.”

During questioning by Assistant Columbiana County District Attorney Steve Yacovone, the teen said the truck was close enough to him when it passed that he could have touched it and appeared to have rolled out of pavement. He also said that when the truck hit Aidan, it went faster. It didn’t stop.

He saw his friend flying through the air and found him lying on his stomach in the ditch. He wasn’t talking and the teen knew it was serious, grabbing his phone to call the police. When asked what was going through his mind, he said “I was panicking. I panicked.

White, 65, State Route 164, Salineville, is charged in Columbiana County Court of Common Pleas with driving the truck that struck and killed Aidan. The charges against him include aggravated homicide while driving a vehicle, a third degree felony, two charges of failing to stop after an accident, one a second degree felony and the other a third degree felony , and possession of cocaine, a fifth degree felony. The first three counts relate directly to his alleged actions related to the accident. The drug charge stems from his alleged possession of cocaine the next day at his home.

White’s defense attorney, James Wise, asked Aidan’s friend if it was dark that night, if there was a lot of light on the road, which Aidan was wearing ( a navy hoodie) and the location of the reflectors on their bikes, which were on the pedals. He questioned the teenager at length about his description of the truck, having him read his written statement to the soldiers the night of the accident. He had testified that the truck was white and beaten. He did not say he was beaten in his statement, but described the truck in the statement as a four-door short bed. Wise showed her a photo of White’s truck, which is a two-tone blue Chevy Silverado.

Is it a four door? Sage asked.

“Man, it was dark outside, I couldn’t see him,” said the visibly upset teenager.

Wise also asked about reflectors and the description of a roll bar on the truck, with the teenager saying he didn’t even know what a roll bar is.

Under Yacovone’s redirection, the teenager said he was wearing a gray hoodie. He also said he knew a truck was involved.

“When your friend Aidan was mowed down by that truck, was every detail of that truck your main concern?” asked Yacovone.

The teenager said no, it was Aidan.

Several members of Aidan’s family attended the trial, and at one point Judge Megan Bickerton chastised White for constantly repositioning herself in her chair and looking toward the victim’s family. Previously, one of the deputies guarding him had told him to stop rolling over and face forward.

Bickerton thanked the deputy and told White that the victim’s family had every right to be there.

“I’m not going to warn you anymore” she says.

White remains in custody at the county jail on bail or $500,000 bond, but appears in full dress during the trial.

Regarding the cocaine found in White’s bedroom at his home, Detective Eric Buday of the County Sheriff’s Office testified that White’s wife, Ruth, admitted that she picked up her husband and drove him to Youngstown to buy crack, saying he was a drug addict and smoked crack. She consented to a search of the garage and evidence of drug use was found. During a search of the room, suspected crack cocaine was found in a box of chewing tobacco and sent to the Criminal Investigations Bureau for testing.

The defense and prosecution, led by Chief Assistant District Attorney Ryan Weikart and Yacovone, pointed to BCI lab results instead of medical examiner testimony that determined the substance to be 0.17 grams of cocaine.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Bruce Palmer and Sgt. Benjamin Dennison both testified to the scene and their parts of the investigation. Palmer collected evidence from the crash scene and then identified that evidence in front of the jury, including photos of the shards of glass from the bulb, pieces of the grille, and the plastic headlight bracket containing a serial number that reverted to an older Chevrolet. He noted that the headlight bracket was for the right side or the passenger side. He also said White’s truck was found on Kelly Park Road, nestled on the side of the road.

Dennison, who serves as deputy station commander at the Lisbon station, spoke about the evidence at the scene and said he drove to where the truck was found, noting it had damage to the front corresponding to the parts found at the scene of the accident. . He spoke of trying to locate the truck’s owner, White, how he tracked phone calls and directed a soldier home when he noticed the vehicle was heading south again after being in Canfield.

Dennison interviewed Ruth at home and was told she was in Poland all day playing cards at the nephew’s house. He also spoke to White and both said they didn’t know where the truck was. White said he kept the keys in the driver’s side door panel. Previous testimony indicated that the keys were in the house.

When told a child had been killed, Dennison said White had no reaction and was nonchalant. When he told Ruth, his demeanor immediately changed. Her voice was shaking and she said she picked up her husband from Youngstown and he said he hit a postbox. When Dennison told White he felt like he was lying, he then said he was driving and hit a mailbox. He passed a sobriety test, but when soldiers learned of narcotics found in the house, he was taken to the county jail for a blood test. On the way, he fell asleep in the stern of the cruiser.

Reportedly, no mailboxes were hit in the area and there were no mailboxes along this stretch.

Wise asked Dennison about the truck and had him read the teen’s statement that said the truck was a four-door short bed, then showed him the photo of White’s truck and asked him if he was acted as a four-door, had a short bed or had a roll bar. The answer was no to all the questions.

Yacovone then asked if it was common for people to make mistakes about the make and model of vehicles in an accident and he said yes.

The trial is expected to continue this morning and could possibly end in front of the jury for deliberation before the end of the day.

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