A driver accused of striking a Columbus couple walking in a bike lane along Taylor Road — killing the husband and seriously injuring the wife — told police he was tired and had closed his eyes, awakened by the realization that his vehicle had collided with something.
That information is included in a probable-cause affidavit in the criminal case against Michael B. DeMaio, 36, 2023 Chandler Lane.
DeMaio is accused of six felonies in the incident that resulted in the death of Anshul Sharma, 30, a Cummins engineer, and severe injuries to his wife, Samira Bhardwaj, 28, Columbus, court documents state. The couple originally is from India.
The two were walking north along Taylor Road near Lakeside Drive and the entrance to Four Seasons Retirement Center, 1901 Taylor Road, when the accident happened at 7:15 p.m. March 26, police said.
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In his statement to police, DeMaio said he had left his home on Chandler Lane, heading to work on the night shift at NTN Driveshaft. DeMaio told police he was feeling tired when he left home and had reached Taylor Road and U.S. 31 when he realized he had forgotten his identification for NTN and turned to go back home, the affidavit states.
DeMaio told police he was driving north on Taylor Road approaching Lakeside when he said “he closed his eyes and his vehicle must have drifted off the roadway,” the affidavit states. DeMaio told police he “woke up when his vehicle collided with an object.”
DeMaio is accused of hitting Sharma and Bhardwaj as they walked in the northbound buffered bike lane along Taylor Road, court affidavits state. When first-responders arrived, police said they found Bhardwaj lying on the ground with faint breath and Sharma, who was later confirmed to have died.
Bartholomew County Coroner Clayton Nolting, ruling that Sharma’s death was a homicide, said the engineer died from blunt force trauma to his head and upper cervical spine.
Bhardwaj is continuing her recovery in a rehabilitation facility, with the help of family members.
On the day of the incident, a witness told police he had seen the couple walking on Taylor Road while he was on his way to pick up his girlfriend, and when he returned to the area, he saw a red van traveling fast and swerving on the road south on Chandler Lane, the affidavit states. The van had a damaged front windshield and damage to the passenger side, the witness told police. The witness also provided a description of the driver.
Police put out a description of the suspect and vehicle, and officer Ivan Schultz located the vehicle at DeMaio’s home, the affidavit states.
DeMaio waived his rights and spoke with police there, telling them he did not know what he had collided with and that he had struggled to keep the vehicle on the roadway after the collision, the affidavit states. When he regained control of the van, he continued driving north and drove home, the affidavit states.
DeMaio told officers he was going to call the police. When they asked him how long he had been home before they arrived, DeMaio said it was about 20 minutes, the affidavit states.
Officers said in the affidavit that DeMaio appeared impaired, with slurred speech and being distant and slow to respond to questions.
The Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s Office initially filed four felony charges against DeMaio, including failure to stop after an accident resulting in death and resulting in injury while operating while intoxicated and operating while intoxicated resulting in death and in injury.
An initial hearing on two additional felony charges — leaving the scene of an accident involving death and serious injury — is set for 1:30 p.m. July 24 in Bartholomew Superior Court 2, court records state.
Penalities on the felonies range from 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 less serious Level 6 offense.
During DeMaio’s initial hearing on the four original charges April 24, Bartholomew Superior Court 2 Judge Kathleen “Kitty” Coriden set DeMaio’s trial date for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 14 to allow enough time for toxicology tests to be completed before trial.
Based on DeMaio’s statement, Columbus police officers conducted an initial field sobriety test that showed DeMaio tested negative for alcohol intoxication after the incident, police said.
However, police said the field sobriety tests indicated there was probable cause to arrest DeMaio for being under the influence. An initial report in court records on DeMaio’s field test results state his speech was slurred, his eyes were bloodshot and his balance was poor.
DeMaio consented to a blood draw before he was taken to the Bartholomew County Jail, where he was released after posting $7,500 bond, jail officials said.
An initial hearing on two additional felonies involving leaving the scene of an accident against Michael B. DeMaio, 36, 2023 Chandler Lane, has been set for 1:30 p.m. July 24 in Bartholomew Superior Court 2.
DeMaio’s trial date has been set for 8:30 a.m. Aug. 14 in Bartholomew Superior Court 2.