A 50-year-old man who caused a crash that killed one of his passengers pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide Wednesday.
Jose Castrejon, of Lakeside, made the plea in Ottawa County Common Pleas court with the help of his Fremont attorney and interpreter, James Melle.
He was indicted on a felony for causing the Nov. 7 crash but agreed to plead guilty to a reduced form of the charge, a first-degree misdemeanor still punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
While answering Judge Bruce Winters’s questions in court, he showed remorse for causing the crash, though such sentiments usually are reserved for sentencing hearings.
Castrejon, a legal resident but not a citizen of the United States, answered the questions in Spanish.
“Then he starts talking about how sorry he is,” Melle said, interpreting for his client.
“I approached the stop sign and when the other car was coming, I stopped,” Castrejon said in Spanish to Melle.
Troopers said Castrejon was driving west on Port Clinton Eastern Road when he pulled out in front of another car driving south on Ohio 269 at about 10:15 p.m.
In court Wednesday, Castrejon told the judge he didn’t see the other car at the intersection.
The vehicles collided.
Castrejon’s van spun around, and one of his passengers, Manuel Lopez-Lopez, 25, was thrown from the vehicle.
Then the van ran over Lopez and killed him.
Lopez wasn’t wearing a seat belt.
“It was an accident. It was my fault,” Castrejon said.
He also told the judge he has diabetes, and when his insulin is unbalanced, it affects his vision.
“I just didn’t see him. I think it was because of the diabetes. I couldn’t see as well. It was night. I shouldn’t have been driving,” he said through his attorney.
In addition to jail time and a fine, Castrejon’s license also could be suspended for up to five years.