CHARDON, Ohio - A man accused of being drunk when his pickup truck struck a car carrying three Hiram College students, killing two, has pleaded not guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide and other charges.
Authorities say James Cline, 47, of Burton, was fleeing police when his truck went left of center and struck a sedan head-on March 2. Grace Chamberlain, 18, of Kirtland, was pronounced dead shortly after the crash. Andrew Hopkins, also 18, of Warren, died of his injuries March 13 in the hospital.
The third student, Evan Dasilva, of Rhode Island, was listed in good condition at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.
Cline, who has 11 previous drunken driving convictions since 1984, was injured when his pickup rolled into a ditch. He was being held in the Geauga County jail Wednesday night.
Before the crash, the Geauga County Sheriff's office received a call about an erratic driver, the State Highway Patrol said. Police from the village of Burton, about 30 miles east of Cleveland, tried to pull over Cline's truck, but he sped away, the patrol said.
The officer did not pursue Cline, the patrol said.
Cline pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a 13-count indictment including four counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of aggravated vehicular assault that include specifications that he was impaired by alcohol at the time. Cline's blood-alcohol content on the night of the crash was 0.26 percent, or more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to the patrol.
Cline's girlfriend, Karen Hensley, 50, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, accused of providing him with the vehicle despite warnings not to do so and knowing his license was suspended.
Also Tuesday, about 200 people gathered at Hiram Christian Church for a memorial service honoring Chamberlain and Hopkins.
"Their lives were not made insignificant by their brevity, their lives were intensified by their completeness," chaplain Jon Moody said.