7th charge filed against city man in March crash

Police: Driver was on drugs

A Columbus man charged after a car-pedestrian accident that killed a Cummins Inc. engineer and severely injured his wife is now accused of being under the influence of methamphetamine at the time.

The new charge of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a Schedule 1 or 2 substance was entered into the record against Michael B. DeMaio, of 2023 Chandler Lane, this week during a Bartholomew Superior Court 2 hearing.

The charge is a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 60 days in jail, as well as a fine of up to $500, Superior Court Judge Kathleen “Kitty” Tighe Coriden said.

DeMaio, 37, had already been facing six felonies in connection with the March 26 accident that resulted in the death of Anshul Sharma, 30, and injuries to his wife, Samira Bhardwaj, 28, of Columbus. The two were struck by a minivan while walking in the northbound, buffered bike lane along Taylor Road near the entrance to the Four Seasons Retirement Center.

Although the minivan left the scene, DeMaio was tracked down within minutes.

While he tested negative for alcohol intoxication, he failed a number of sobriety tests that provided probable cause to arrest him, police said.

Toxicology reports that appear to confirm methamphetamine use came in shortly after DeMaio’s last court hearing in May, police said.

After DeMaio’s apprehension, the defendant told police he was driving north on Taylor Road when he said “he closed his eyes and his vehicle must have drifted off the roadway,” a probable-cause affidavit states. DeMaio told police he “woke up when his vehicle collided with an object,” according to the affidavit.

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.

During Monday’s hearing, it was revealed that deputy prosecutor Lindsey Kay had made a plea bargain offer, and that defense attorney Brett Hays of Seymour responded by making a counter-offer.

DeMaio’s jury trial is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 18. However, Hays asked the judge to postpone the trial because it’s unknown whether an expert toxicologist he plans to call to the stand will be available, but Coriden denied the request.

The defendant was released from jail after the judge granted Hays’ request to lower DeMaio’s bond June 7, court records state.

Overview of charges

The original charges filed March 26 against Michael B. DeMaio are:

  • Two counts of leaving the scene of an accident while operating a motor vehicle under the influence, both Level 3 felonies.
  • Causing death while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, a Level 5 felony.
  • Causing serious injury while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, a Level 6 felony.

Two additional charges filed April 25 are:

  • Leaving the scene of a fatal accident, a Level 5 felony.
  • Leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injuries, a Level 6 felony.

The seventh charge, read into the record Monday by Bartholomew Superior Court 2 Judge Kathleen “Kitty” Tighe Coriden, is operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a Schedule 1 or 2 substance, a Class C misdemeanor.

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.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.