Plea from driver in fatal ATV crash
Lang, 25, sitting next to his attorney, Rolf Baumgartel, listened as Washington County Common Pleas Judge Randall Burnworth read out the terms of the plea agreement, in which he neither admitted or denied his role in the events of June 3, 2017, that led to Reed’s death. Burnworth explained that although Lang was pleading no-contest to the three charges, he would enter a finding of guilty on all three.
Reed died while riding in his two-seat all-terrain vehicle, commonly called a side-by-side, late that night. Investigators concluded that Lang was driving the vehicle, lost control of it on a back road, and left the scene after the vehicle went off the road, struck a culvert and flipped over. Wednesday’s plea was the first indication that Lang had abandoned his previous account that Reed had been driving that night.
On March 26, 2018, Lang was indicted by a Washington County grand jury on charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, failure to stop after an accident and tampering with evidence. He has been free on bond since then.
His plea of no-contest Wednesday was to a reduced charge of vehicular homicide, a first-degree misdemeanour, and failure to stop and tampering with evidence, both third-degree felonies. A no-contest plea indicates the defendant does not admit to guilt but acknowledges that the evidence is likely to result in a conviction and for that reason foregoes the right to trial.
“I have talked to Mr. Lang about the facts, and he has said he was drunk and injured that night and does not recall what happened,” Baumgartel told the court.
Burnworth entered a finding of guilty, ordered a pre-sentence investigation to be presented at a July 17 interview with Lang, and set a sentencing hearing for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 16. The misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of six months in county jail, and each of the two felonies carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison, Burnworth said.
Three members of the Reed family and one of Tyron’s friends sat in the gallery, dressed in bright blue T-shirts with white lettering, bearing Tyron’s dates of birth and death, and, in big letters on the back, the legend “Keep sending it.”
Tyron’s mother, Tammy Reed, explained after the hearing that the phrase was one of Tyron’s favorites, and that family and friends all wore the shirts to his funeral.
“They’ve never had a bigger funeral in Beverly than Tyron’s,” his grandmother, Susie Denton, said. Tyron, who loved farming and worked for the Doug McCutcheon Farm, was taken to his grave by a tractor, she said.
“He was a farmer and he loved it, he would ride all over the land,” Tammy Reed said. Denton said Tyron rode on a tractor nearly before he could walk.
He was a well-loved and kind man, Tammy said.
“If you were broke down, he’d stop and help you, he would drop whatever he was doing to help anybody,” she said. “We knew Tyron wasn’t driving that side-by-side, he never would have wrecked it.”
Tyron and Corey Lang were acquaintances but not necessarily friends, she said. The two had been at the same party on the night Tyron died.
She had been talking to Tyron on the phone just before the crash occurred, she said, only minutes before the 911 call. Her nephew arrived at the scene and helped pull the vehicle off him, she said, and called her.
“I’ll never forget that phone call, they weren’t even a mile from our house. We went out there, there were police cars and the lights running, I see that every night in my dreams,” she said.
“Now, he’ll never have grandkids, I’ll never see him get married,” she said. “He was killed on my aunt’s birthday, we were supposed to have a party. Instead of that, we were grieving under a tent.”
Tyron Reed was 23.
Michael Kelly can be reached at email@example.com.
•Born: May 17, 1994, Marietta.
•Died: June 3, 2017, Swift Road, near Waterford in an ATV crash.
•Graduate of Waterford High School through the Washington County Career Center.
•Employed by Doug McCutcheon Farms.
•Survived by father and mother, Dean and Tammy Reed, brothers Tanner Reed and Dustin Slater, grandparents Susie and Clinton Denton and Linda Reed.
Source: Tyron Reed obituary.