CINCINNATI – A Hamilton County judge stood in the street and cried after being involved in a tragic accident that killed a beloved West End grandmother, an eyewitness told WCPO.
Judge Patrick Dinkelacker was distraught after hitting 60-year-old Pamela Barnett as she walked across Central Parkway about 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jack Ellenberger said.
Ellenberger said he was driving by and saw Barnett in his rearview mirror. She was standing on the yellow line in the middle of the busy road.
"I actually saw the one man strike her. I had no idea that he had actually hit her. I thought that maybe he had swerved to miss her," Ellenberger said.
Instead, the impact threw Barnett into traffic, where she was hit again by another car.
Ellenberger said Dinkelacker, a Hamilton County Appeals Court judge, got out of his SUV and couldn’t keep his composure.
"He couldn't hold the tears back any longer and had a little bit of a cry there. I mean, I wouldn't blame him," Ellenberger said.
The accident, between Linn and Ravine Streets in the West End, was “very tragic,” the commander of the Cincinnati police traffic unit said.
"This accident truly is -- in the pure sense -- an accident,” Lt. Bruce Hoffbauer said.
Neither speed nor alcohol was involved, Hoffbauer said. Barnett was wearing dark clothing, officers said.
"There's no signs of impairment. There's no indication that any one was speeding -- and we have a person in the roadway," Hoffbauer said.
“Unfortunately, the drivers of these cars have that to live with and it's a very difficult thing."
Once the investigation is finished, the findings will be presented to the county prosecutor to determine if charges are warranted, Hoffbauer said. That’s standard in any serious accident, he said.
WCPO could not reach Dinkelacker for comment. Court administrator Mark Combs said he expected Dinkelacker to be back on the bench Thursday.
The other driver, Grace Ring, said by phone that she didn't want to talk about what happened.
Dinkelacker, 59, and Ring, 32, were wearing seatbelts and were not injured, police said.
Barnett’s daughter Angela said she had a special request for Dinkelacker.
"I know it was an accident and I really would like to talk to the judge and his wife because I appreciate them being there with my mom and her last final words. I just want to know that happened," Barnett said Wednesday.
Angela Barnett visited the scene where her mother died and clung to a slipper found there.
“My mom, she was everything to me,” she said. “I was an only child and it's been here all our lives just battling every little obstacle together.
“You know, we've been through a lot together, but as long as I had my mom and my kids I was always all right. Now, I don't have my mom any more. I don't understand this. Never had to deal with this."
The victim’s brother, Juan Barnett, made the sad visit with his niece.
"She was a devoted mother, devoted grandmother, devoted great-grandmother, and the family is having a hard time dealing with this tragedy because it was so sudden," Juan Barnett said.
Barnett lived nearby on Central Avenue. Donald Young said he grew up with her and couldn’t believe she's gone.
"She was a very nice person … very nice person. And her daughter and her two granddaughters were very, very nice. We're going to miss her," Young said.
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