BEDFORD -- Today Christine Gregory, of Chagrin Falls, pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide, a misdemeanor of the first degree. She also pleaded guilty to one count of reckless operation, and one count of failing to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk and both traffic offenses were minor misdemeanors.
Gregory, 62, struck five people in the crosswalk at Washington and Franklin streets in mid-July in downtown Chagrin Falls, killing Eli Sachar, 8, of Virginia.
Gregory was sentenced to 180 days of jail time, with 120 days suspended, and the defendant will incur the cost of housing. She was also sentenced to fines in the amount of $ 1,350 ($500.00 suspended), one year of probation, a maximum five-year license suspension, and, as part of her plea agreement, Gregory will surrender her Ohio Driver's License for the remainder of her life.
The plea deal required that Gregory agree to never drive again, with or without a license, nor to ever reapply for her license.
Gregory began her 60-day sentence at Solon Jail this morning.
The family of Eli Sachar released the following statement:
We struggled with whether we should say anything at today's hearing, but we feel that something must be said on behalf of our family. First, we just want to again thank the community of Chagrin Falls, whose outpouring of support and kindness has been remarkable. This kindness and generosity is made even more incredible by the fact that no one in the community had ever known or heard of Eli Sachar until the horrible events of July 12. We also want to thank Tom Hanculak and his team of lawyers, police officers, and others for involving us in what has been a very trying process for everyone involved.
July 12 started like any other day that we have had for the last eight-plus years. A day of hope and a day of excitement, and a day to spend with our beautiful three children. It was an idyllic day in what we had heard - and what we now know firsthand - is an idyllic town. Armed with our entire family and some very close friends, we walked into town to grab lunch and then continue on with our day. We came to the crosswalk in town and prepared to do something we have done thousands of times - cross the street and to make sure the kids were safe. We did the same things we always did and will continue to do - "hold my hand," "look both ways," be careful. This time, however, Christine Gregory did not hold up her end of the bargain.
As we crossed the walk -clearly with the right of way - Christine Gregory just kept driving. Inexplicably, after she initially hit my wife and three-year old son, she just kept driving. She didn't hit the brakes, she didn't slow down, just kept driving. Eli was next in her path and she hit him; ran him over; and killed him. Even more shocking, she didn't even express any emotion after what she did. She didn't emerge from the car to ask if everyone was ok and expressed no concern that persons may have been hurt. She just sat there, motionless, dazed, and seemingly confused. We looked into her eyes and there was nothing - just emptiness. Subsequently, we understand Ms. Gregory said "she didn't see us." It is incomprehensible that she didn't see us or she didn't hear the screams of a frightened three-year old boy or the screams of the parents who watched their formerly living son gasp his last breaths.
Christine Gregory killed a truly incredible boy. A boy with love and honor in his heart, a boy with promise, and a boy with an incredibly bright future. We have lost a son; his siblings have lost a brother; his grandparents have lost a grandchild; and the world has lost a shining light. This is a tragedy of truly indescribable proportions and picking up the pieces from something like this is unimaginable. While Christine Gregory killed a child, we will not let Christine Gregory destroy our family. No way. We will carry on for the sake of our children that Christine Gregory thankfully did not kill through her conduct.
Today, Christine Gregory is being held accountable for her crimes, but we are left wondering whether others could have done more to prevent this horrific tragedy. There are so many unanswered questions from this, but a few come to mind. How could the State of Ohio issue a driver's license to this person - a person who has a history of hitting others with her car because "she didn't see them?" How could other people - whether physicians or her family and closest friends - believe she could operate a motor vehicle and not be a danger to others?
Today closes the book on this proceeding involving Christine Gregory, but it does not close the chapter on the pain and suffering we will feel the rest of our lives from the death of our son. We can only hope and pray that no parent has to suffer the horrible pain that we will feel for eternity. While we understand that this may not be the forum to effectuate greater change, we can only hope that one outcome from this horrible tragedy will be that the State of Ohio carefully and meaningfully examines whether it has sufficient safeguards in place to ensure that other individuals like Christine Gregory are not permitted to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.