Toxicology delays fatal hit-and-run trial

Police: Columbus resident faces 4 felonies after striking pair on Taylor Road

A driver accused of being intoxicated and leaving the scene after he struck a couple walking along Taylor Road had his trial date delayed as prosecutors continue to wait for toxicology test results.

Bartholomew Superior Court 2 Judge Kathleen “Kitty” Coriden entered a not-guilty plea Monday for Michael DeMaio, 36, of 2023 Chandler Lane, who is accused of four felonies in the March 26 incident.

DeMaio is accused of striking a Columbus married couple originally from India, killing the husband and critically injuring his wife, as they walked in a buffered bike lane of northbound Taylor Road, court documents state.

Anshul Sharma, 30, a Cummins engineer, was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife, Samira Bhardwaj, 28, has begun long-term steps toward recovery in a rehabilitation center, friends of the couple told The Republic. Her family members are in the United States to support her during the rehabilitation recommended by her doctors, they said.

Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting said Sharma’s death was a homicide and that the engineer died from blunt force trauma to his head and upper cervical spine.

DeMaio faces charges of operating while intoxicated resulting in death and in injury, and failure to stop after an accident resulting in death and injury, with all four charges filed as felonies.

Penalties on the felonies range up to 16 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for the most serious Level 3 offenses, and a low of six months in prison and a $10,000 fine for the Level 6 offense.

Coriden set DeMaio’s trial date for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 14, and set a pretrial hearing for 1:30 p.m. July 24, to allow enough time for the toxicology tests to be completed before the trial.

An initial field sobriety test on DeMaio showed that he tested negative for alcohol intoxication after he was found at a home in the 2000 block of Chandler Lane after the incident — just a few minutes east of the accident scene by car, police said.

Police described DeMaio’s appearance and behavior as being slow to respond, and said he had slurred speech during his arrest, police said. A Columbus Police Department staff drug-recognition specialist ran DeMaio through a number of field sobriety tests and advised there was probable cause to arrest him for being under the influence, police said.

A witness saw DeMaio’s red minivan with heavy front-end damage and a damaged windshield driving recklessly on Chandler Lane shortly after the couple was found, police said. DeMaio was inside the Chandler Lane residence when police found the minivan, which had substantial damage to its hood and windshield, they said.

DeMaio had asked to have the minivan and his cellphone, which had been confiscated by police, returned to him, court documents stated. The Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s office said the Columbus Police Department had finished processing the minivan, which could be picked up at Columbus Towing, and the phone, which was released from the police department.

How to help

An online gofundme account set up to help defray medical expenses for Samira Bhardwaj, 28, Columbus, has reached about $61,500 toward a $100,000 goal. To participate, visit:

gofundme.com/supportanshulsharmasfamily

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.