Springfield driver indicted in deaths of girl, granddad

Published: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 @ 10:08 AM
Updated: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 @ 8:25 PM

            Springfield man indicted for crash that killed two
Springfield man indicted for crash that killed two

A Springfield man has been charged with vehicular homicide five months after a Clark County man and his granddaughter died in a crash.

A Clark County grand jury indicted Lewis Chambers, 54, on Monday on multiple charges, including aggravated vehicular homicide, operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, aggravated vehicular assault and vehicular assault.

Chambers was behind the wheel of an SUV when it slammed into a car on Dayton-Springfield Road on Oct. 11, killing 12-year-old Sophia Gruber and her grandfather, 65-year-old Richard Gruber, of Mad River Twp.

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Two other family members survived the crash — 10-year-old Olivia Gruber and 57-year-old Brinda Gruber.

The family was driving to their home off South Tecumseh Road from Enon after a day after the Apple Butter Festival, Brinda Gruber said.

“It was a really good day that was ruined in a flash,” she added.

With tears in her eyes, Brinda Gruber said Olivia Gruber sometimes asks her why she and her grandmother survived, but the others in the car did not.

“There was a reason for it, but I just don’t understand it right now,” Brinda Gruber said.

Brinda Gruber was driving that night and saw her husband and granddaughter die.

“I looked over at Sophia. And I was screaming, ‘Sophia! Sophia!’ and I (saw) the life leaving out of her,” she said. “And she was just gone. There was nothing I could do.”

At the time of the crash Chambers allegedly had a blood alcohol level 0.238, almost three times the legal limit for driving, and was speeding, according to an Ohio State Highway Patrol report.

After the crash, Chambers was sentenced to spend six months in jail for a 2002 drunken driving case in the city of Springfield.

Clark County Prosecutor Andrew Wilson said Chambers was convicted in 2002 on an OVI charge, but he never appeared for his sentencing court date. A warrant was issued for his arrest, but he was never picked up, Wilson said.

Olivia Gruber suffered broken bones in her face from the crash, but is healed and seeing a counselor. Brinda Gruber has experienced neck pain, back problems and has difficulty walking long distances since the crash, she said.

Chambers is booked in the Clark County Jail serving his previous sentence and will be arraigned in a Clark County Common Pleas courtroom on the new charges later this week, according to court records. If convicted, he could spend up to 30 years in prison, prosecutors said.