An Akron woman accused of causing a crash with an ambulance that killed her friend pleaded not guilty Friday.
After the hearing in Akron Municipal Court, the attorney for Cherica Jones, 20, said he intends to commission a second crash reconstruction to prove the woman’s innocence.
“Miss Jones is innocent of all the charges. It’s still early in the investigation, and we have a lot of work ahead of us,” attorney Darren W. DeHaven said.
“We’ve been to the scene. We’ve looked at the scene. ... [There] are witness statements we were just given that we have some issues with. So we will prepare our defense accordingly.”
A reconstruction of the collision on April 19 prepared by Akron police placed the blame on Jones. Officers concluded she was speeding on West Cedar Street about 3:20 a.m. and failed to stop at a disabled traffic signal at Wabash Avenue, triggering the crash with an American Medical Response ambulance.
The crash killed Jones’ friend, Collins D. Green, 57, who was seated behind her in the back seat of her Ford Explorer.
Police say the ambulance struck the driver’s side of Jones’ vehicle and Green took the hardest impact. Jones was giving Green a ride home when the crash occurred.
Two other passengers suffered minor injuries. In an interview the day of the crash, one of those passengers said Jones, who was driving east on West Cedar Street, did stop at the intersection and that the ambulance driver failed to yield.
The ambulance driver was transferring a 56-year-old hospital patient from Macedonia and was not required to activate the vehicle’s emergency lights or siren.
Police contend Jones drove through the intersection at about 49 mph. The posted speed limit is 30 mph.
The criminal charges filed against Jones — vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter and failing to stop at a malfunctioning traffic light — are misdemeanors that carry a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Jones remains free on bond. Her case is assigned to Judge Jerry K. Larson.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.