Cortland man pleads guilty to OVI crash that killed jogger

Brittany Szwedko was walking on the side of Ridge Road in Fowler Township when she was hit by Lauer last year

Russell Lauer was arraigned on aggravated vehicular homicide and OVI charges Monday morning in Trumbull County.


WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The man accused of hitting and killing 27-year-old Brittany Szwedko pleaded guilty to the fatal crash in a Trumbull County courtroom Monday morning.

Szwedko was training for a half marathon when police say Russell Lauer III hit her along Ridge Road in Fowler Township and took off. She later died as a result of her injuries.

Monday, the victim’s family heard the word they had been longing to hear — “guilty.” Szwedko’s mother, Mary Kay, said she’s happy to finally hear Lauer say it.

The 43-year-old pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of an accident, and OVI.

“Emotionally, this is a tough case. I know that Brittany’s mother struggled with this case and it’s understandable,” said Assistant Prosecutor Mike Burnett.

Police said Lauer was extremely impaired behind the wheel, under the influence of alcohol and drugs, at the time of the crash in February of 2016.

Lauer left the scene but a witness followed him, eventually getting him to stop and holding him there until police arrived.

“We are thankful to that gentleman who doesn’t really want his name mentioned, but we are thankful to him for doing the right thing and stopping Mr. Lauer,” Burnett said.

Prosecutors said he has two prior convictions for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as well as a prior reckless operation charge and seven prior suspensions on his driving record.

They’ll be asking that Lauer serve eight years at sentencing — a hearing that will be scheduled at a later date.

This, as Szwedko’s family continues planning for her second memorial 5K in September.

Brittany Szwedko, the pedestrian who was struck by a car on Ridge Road in Fowler Township back on February 27, has died.
Brittany Szwedko

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