UNION TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Four months after his wedding, Cincinnati Country Day teacher Fred Carey was killed while riding his bike in what police said was a crash involving a drunken driver.
But Carey’s wife Deborah Floyd said there’s more to the story.
“The loss of (Carey) was utterly tragic, but make no mistake: this was not some ‘accident,’ but the inevitable result of lax laws and punishments for repeat drunk driving offenders,” Floyd said.
Authorities said Todd Shaw was convicted of drunken driving six times before he struck and killed Carey, 51, less than a mile from his Milford home. But the I-Team dug through Shaw’s 33-year criminal history and discovered information prosecutors weren't even aware of.
Shaw was actually arrested seven times for driving under the influence charges – Feb. 22, the day after Carey’s death, was No. 8.
Shaw, 51, was first arrested for drunken driving in 1981, and Clermont County records show he didn’t stop there. He has two DUI arrests in 1985, and one in each year of 1994, 1996, 2002, 2007 -- and finally, 2014.
Shaw's last two drunken driving arrests were designated OVIs (operating a vehicle under the influence) rather than DUIs (driving under the influence) because the Ohio General Assembly changed the statute to OVI in January 2005.
The day of Carey’s death, police said Shaw hit him with his van along Round Bottom Road at about 6:25 p.m.
Investigators said Shaw fled after hitting Carey and abandoned his van. Officers tracked him down and arrested him the following day after receiving various tips from nearby stores that sell alcohol.
At Shaw’s hearing two days later, the prosecutor called him a “danger to society.”
Don White, who served as Clermont County prosecutor from 1989 to 2013, said he wonders if more could have been done to prevent Carey’s death.
“I’m sure if I look back, I can probably say, ‘I could have done more,’” White said. “We couldn’t predict the future, but when somebody is like this, it’s just a matter of time before they hurt themselves or somebody else.”
After examining Shaw’s court records, White said he believes the judges did all they could.
When it comes to drunken driving arrests, White said Ohio has a six-year washout period. If you get your first OVI in 2014 and your second in 2016, the second arrest is considered your "second in six" and the penalty is stiffer.
But White said if you go six years without a second or third OVI, the years recycle – and your OVI in 2022 is legally considered your first.
“He never made it to the felony level because his (drunken driving) convictions were spaced far enough apart,” White said.
But there were other red flags in Shaw's history.
In 1994 after his fourth driving under the influence arrest, Shaw was written up for tampering with his car's court-ordered breath alcohol ignition Interlock device . The device forces driver's to blow into a breathalyzer before turning the key.
In 1995, Shaw told a counselor his plan was "to continue drinking" his "usual amount" of four to five drinks, but "less often,” records show.
"Habitual drunk drivers never think they're too drunk to drive,” said Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) member Andie Rehkamp. “They drink to excess, and they think law enforcement is picking on them."
Friends of Shaw told WCPO that despite his criminal history, he's just a "good guy" who made a bad mistake.
"I just hope this family of the person who got hit understands that it wasn't nothing personal,” Shaw’s friend Crystal Bonham said. “It wasn't his fault… He's a good person too and we are very sorry for (Carey’s) family too.”
Bonham said Shaw’s drinking has "never been an issue."
"It's drink after work. It’s not an issue. It hasn't been,” Bonham said. “He's got (OVIs) but they are pretty spread out.”
The I-Team found hundreds in counties across the Tri-State. The totals are:
- Hamilton County: 146
- Butler County: 174
- Warren County: 93
- Clermont County: 67
- Brown County: 28
- Clinton County: 23
- Highland County: 28
"The only thing that's going to keep somebody like (Shaw) off the roadways is to keep him locked up," Rehkamp said. “Whenever he has the opportunity he's going to drink and drive and he's going to do it again.”
Floyd said she was disgusted when she found out how many times Shaw was arrested for drinking and driving.
She said Carey was an English teacher who touched the lives of many of his students and those who knew him – and it is impossible to express the depth of her family’s loss.
“There are no words that can restore our Fred. There are words to express our utter shock and dismay at the egregious system that allowed (Shaw) to still drive legally in the State of Ohio,” Floyd said. “Our family hopes that this time, the courts will ensure that (Shaw) will bear the full weight of his actions.”
Carey’s family members said they want more stringent laws to be
passed so that “no other family will ever face the double horror of losing a loved one and knowing it could have been prevented.”
A bill was introduced in Ohio this year that would require first-time offenders to have a breath alcohol ignition Interlock device installed in their car.
Rehkamp said those devices have been known to reduce repeat drunken drivers.