Driver in deadly church van, train crash pleads guilty

Driver in deadly church van crash pleads guilty
Driver in deadly church van crash pleads guilty
Posted at 11:34 AM, Jan 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-19 11:47:48-05

HAMILTON, Ohio -- A Middletown woman behind the wheel of a deadly train and church van crash in 2015 has pleaded guilty to felony charges.

Judith Ashley, 65, was in Butler Common Pleas Court this morning where she entered the guilty plea to aggravated vehicular homicide, two counts of endangering children, and two counts of vehicular assault.

She faces a maximum of 168 days in prison. Sentencing has been set for February.

Prescription pills may be factor in fatal train/van crash.

Ashley was the driver of a Church of Mayfield van on July 28, 2015, when it collided with a CSX train on 14th Avenue, killing 64-year-old Janice Martin and injuring nine children.

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.

Ashley and Martin had been picking up children for an evening vacation Bible school at the church when the crash occurred.

Martin, of Middletown, died from blunt force trauma to the chest.

The nine children in the van, ages 4-10, were treated and released from Atrium Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, according to the church.

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

The Journal-News is a news partner of WCPO. See the original story here.