Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Guernsey
from the Guernsey County Municipal Court, Traffic Division,
Case No. 2018TRD3465
Plaintiff-Appellee WILLIAM H. FERGUSON Law Director, City of
Defendant-Appellant BRIAN A. SMITH
Hon. John W. Wise, P.J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J. Hon. Earle
E. Wise, J.
Thomas Gathright appeals the decision of the Cambridge
Municipal Court finding him guilty of failure to control his
vehicle, a violation of R.C. 4511.202, a minor misdemeanor.
Appellee is the State of Ohio.
OF FACTS AND THE CASE
Appellant was delivering a truckload of sand to the site of a
well on a rural road in Cambridge. The trailer portion of the
vehicle went off the road and spilled its contents. Appellant
was cited for failure to control, but contended that a defect
in the road caused the trailer to tip and he was not
responsible. The trial court disagreed, found him guilty and
fined him $100.00 and charged him with court costs. The court
also recorded two points against his driver's license.
Appellant drove his sand laden vehicle on Grape Hollow Road,
traveling under the speed limit of fifteen miles per hour. He
maneuvered to the right, attempting to miss some pot holes,
when the trailer began tipping and fell. Once the trailer
became unbalanced he was unable to regain control and it came
to rest off the right side of the road in a ditch.
Trooper James Bullock of the Ohio State Highway Patrol
responded to the scene and cited Appellant for failure to
control, after hearing Appellant's explanation that it
was a defect in the road and not inattentive driving that
resulted in the loss of control.
Appellant entered a not guilty plea and the matter was tried.
Testimony was limited to Appellant and the Trooper. Appellee
offered twenty-six photographs of the accident scene.
Appellant submitted a video of the event as it occurred as
well as photographs of the road surface taken days later.
Appellant explained that he was driving approximately eleven
miles per hour, under the speed limit, and he was driving on
the right hand side of the road to avoid pot holes. Grape
Hollow Road is a two lane road with no edge markings, and
appears to be in a rural area as seen on the video. Appellant
claims "the road gave just a little bit" shifted
the weight of the trailer and causing it to tip into the
ditch. He claimed his "steer tires never left the road
and that he was driving in a straight line when the defect in
the road caused the problem."
Trooper Bullock agreed that Appellant told him "the back
of his trailer started to get into the edge of the ditch line
and then it just sucked him in. And once his load started to
shift, I mean, he was just in for the ride." But the
Trooper also concluded "there was nothing wrong with the
road, he (Appellant) just got off too far at the edge of the
ditch and gravity took over."
Appellant offered a video of the incident and, ironically,
the magistrate concluded the video ...