Ohio lawmakers unanimously pass firefighter amendment in vehicular manslaughter cases

Published: Dec. 3, 2022 at 9:49 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - An amendment to Senate Bill 185 passed by the Ohio House new requires a minimum five-year sentence to those convicted of vehicular manslaughter when the victim is a firefighter or EMT.

Following the death of Cleveland firefighter Johnny Tetrick in a hit-skip crash on Nov. 19, Ohio Representatives Tom Patton and Bride Rose Sweeney brought this amendment forward.

Similar requirements are already set for cases where the victim is a police officer or BCI investigator.

“It wasn’t a new law that we were passing, it was only going to be a law to include what should have been included back in 2004 when we did the initial mandatory five years,” said Patton.

Current Ohio law states that those convicted of vehicular manslaughter while under the influence can face a mandatory prison sentence of anywhere between two and eight years, as well as a lifetime license suspension.

Sweeney stated that while the amendment wouldn’t bring Tetrick back, his death influenced state lawmakers to have firefighter backs.

Parma Firefighter T.J. Martin hopes this tragedy will make people pay even more attention behind the wheel for their own safety, as well as those working to keep them safe.

“Move over and slow down,” said Martin. “They’re there for your protection. Give them that opportunity to protect you.”

The House unanimously added the amendment Thursday, with the bill itself passing by a 55-22 vote.