Trenton man admits guilt in fatal January crash that killed ‘Mr. Waynesville’

Lonnie Schear SUBMITTED

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Lonnie Schear SUBMITTED

A Trenton man has admitted to negligently operating his vehicle and causing a crash in January that killed a Waynesville man and seriously injured that man’s wife.

Richard Latino, 36, of the 900 block of Pom Court, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court to reduced misdemeanor charges for the Jan. 18 crash in Lemon Twp., according to court records.

Latino was originally indicted for aggravated vehicular homicide, a third-degree felony, and vehicular assault, a fourth-degree felony. He entered guilty pleas to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault, both first-degree misdemeanors.

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Judge Noah Powers II set Nov. 24 for sentencing. Latino faces up to 18 months in prison on each of the charges.

Lonnie D. Schear, 70, died in the crash that happened about 5:30 p.m. on Oxford State Road near Radabaugh Road. His wife, Connie Schear, 69, was injured and taken by medical helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.

Schear, of West Ellis Drive in Waynesville, was a longtime Lebanon Citizens National Bank employee and was a local leader involved in community events including the Ohio Sauerkraut Festival.

“Lonnie was pretty much Mr. Waynesville,” Eric Meilstrup, bank president of what is now known as LCNB Bank, said in January.

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Latino’s vehicle went left of center while traveling east on Ohio 73 (Oxford State) and collided head-on into Schear’s vehicle that was westbound on Oxford State.

Schear’s vehicle spun sideways and was struck by a third westbound vehicle.

Latino was also injured and taken by medical helicopter to University of Cincinnati Hospital for treatment.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the reduced charges hold Latino accountable for his actions, but the facts of the case did not rise to the level recklessly operating a vehicle to warrant a felony conviction.

“There was no alcohol involved. This guy lost control of his car in a 55 mph zone. His speedometer was pegged at 65, which 10 miles over is not as egregious as you might think. He should have been slowing down, but the speed is not to the level of reckless,” Gmoser said. “It was a hairline case in the beginning, the speed is more negligence than reckless.”

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