Mom of I-70 fatal crash victim: ‘There is always going to be a gaping hole in our hearts’

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Clark County Common Pleas Court Judge Douglas Rastatter sentenced Marc Terrell of South Charleston to the maximum sentence allowable by Ohio law.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A South Charleston man is headed to prison — potentially facing up to 17½ years for a crash that killed a 20-year-old New York college student and injured two of the victim’s friends.

Clark County Common Pleas Court Judge Douglas Rastatter sentenced Marc Terrell, 37, of South Charleston to the maximum sentence allowable by Ohio law on Monday — between 13½ and 17½ years in prison.

Earlier this year, Terrell pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault and OVI.

The July 2 crash killed Matthew William ‘Billy’ Eskeli IV. His two passengers, Zack Cooper and Ben Cooper, were taken to the hospital and have since recovered.

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All three were driving back to New York after an engineering event.

An Ohio State Highway Patrol investigation shows that Terrell was driving about 135 mph and his blood alcohol level was well above three times the legal limit at the time of the crash.

On Monday, the courtroom was packed full of family members and friends of the victims that traveled from New York for the hearing. Many of them tried to hold back their tears as the victims’ families both spoke prior to Terrell’s sentence being handed down.

Eskeli’s mom, Stephanie Eskeli, talked about her only son and everything that she’ll now miss out on — watching her son graduate college, watching him fall in love and start a family and watching him start a career as an engineer.

“From the day he was born, he always had a quiet, gentle way about him and that did not change as he grew into an amazing young man,” she said. “The best day of our lives was Feb. 14, 1999, when Bill was born and each day continued to be the best until July 2, 2019 when Bill was taken from us. Each day since has been the worst of our lives.”

A statement from the Cooper family was also read by Attorney William Thomas.

“After this hearing, Zack and his family are going to drive on 70 East past that spot. They’re gonna stop, and they’re gonna think of Billy and lay a memorial,” Thomas said. “(Zack) will be able to put that spot out of site when he leaves and drives away — but what he really needs, Your Honor, is to help put that site, what he saw that night, what he experienced that night out of his mind.”

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Clark County Prosecutor Dan Driscoll joined the families in asking the judge to impose the maximum sentence, but acknowledged that all parties in the case were going through some type of pain.

“It’s everyone. That’s what happens when these types of senseless crimes occur. This case comes down to choices and the choices that the defendant made on that day,” Driscoll said. “The combination of alcohol, speed, recklessness was akin to firing a gun down the interstate. Mr. Terrell was a moving deadly weapon.”

After the sentence was handed down, Eskeli’s family released a statement that said in part, “There is no punishment that will bring Billy back, we are pleased that Mr. Terrell received the maximum sentence allowable by Ohio law.”

It continues on to say, “While there is always going to be a gaping hole in our hearts, we know what Billy would want is for us to all make him proud in the way we live our every day lives. Be humble and be kind — and think of Billy.”

Terrell’s attorney, James Skogstrom did not return a request for comment after the sentencing.

As part of his sentence, Terrell’s driver’s license is suspended for the rest of his life.

The Springfield News-Sun was the first to report the fatal crash on July 2. Since then, the News-Sun has walked readers through the resulting court case against the driver, Marc Terrell.

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