YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It’s been over two years since a deadly boat crash on the Berlin Reservoir and Monday afternoon, a physician from Poland was on trial for causing it.
Joseph Yurich formally signed papers waiving his right to have a jury hear his case. It will now be heard by Judge Jack Durkin.
Yurich is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide and assault, as well as operating a watercraft under the influence.
In May of 2015, investigators say Yurich crashed his boat into another near the causeway on Route 224, killing Neal Cuppett, of Akron, and injuring his fishing partner, Bruce Lindamood, who is also from the Akron area. Police say Yurich then left the scene.
“He went under the bridge and proceeded home. Offered absolutely no assistance while the victim, Bruce, was yelling that he couldn’t find his friend, Brian, and was yelling for help,” a prosecutor said.
“[Yurich’s] first concern became that he hit something — a rock or a stump — poked a hole in his boat and so not hearing or seeing anything, he decided he needed to take off and try to get back to Hawthorne,” a defense attorney said.
The defense says when Yurich got to his home in Deerfield, he told his wife he hit something. His attorneys say he then called a friend to tell them the same thing and asked for help to find out what happened. That friend was helping with the accident.
Eventually, Yurich’s wife called the police and said her husband hit something.
Sheriff’s deputies in Portage County caught up with Yurich a couple of hours later at his house.
Prosecutors say they expect to spend most of this week calling witnesses. The case could last into next week.
If Yurich is convicted, he’ll face mandatory prison time.