Church van driver sentenced in passenger's death

Janice Martin died after July 2015 crash
Church van driver sentenced in passenger's death
Church van driver sentenced in passenger's death
Church van driver sentenced in passenger's death
Posted at 3:00 PM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 15:11:06-05

HAMILTON, Ohio -- A Middletown woman who drove a church van into a train, killing her front-seat passenger, was sentenced Tuesday to four-and-a-half years in prison.

Judith Ashley pleaded guilty last month to aggravated vehicular homicide, two counts of endangering children, and two counts of vehicular assault.

Prescription pills may be factor in fatal crash on July 28, 2015, investigators said: Ashley told two firefighters she had been "taking Vicodin and Adderall all day" before the fatal collision.

She was operating a van for Church of Mayfield's weeklong vacation Bible school when she drove into a moving CSX train on Middletown's 14th Avenue. The crash killed Janice Martin, 62, and injured nine children.

A sign for the church's Bible school. Photo by John Genovese | WCPO

Martin, of Middletown, died from blunt force trauma to the chest. None of the children's injuries was serious.

Ashley, who is the wife of church pastor Rev. Gary Ashley, suffered multiple injuries in the crash.

Her trial was scheduled to begin March 30. She was also charged with a higher degree of aggravated vehicular homicide. Those charges were merged in exchange for the plea.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said at Ashley’s arraignment that she was also reckless because there was sufficient sight distance to see the train with lights flashing and gates down.


This story contains prior reporting from WCPO media partner The Journal-News.