Saturday 5 November 2022
Written by William Kincaid
SELENA – The 65-year-old New York man who caused a fatal accident earlier this year avoided a lengthy prison term when he was sentenced Friday morning to prison, house arrest, a fine and court fees.
Adil Sabanagic pleaded guilty last month to one of the countless motor vehicle murders, a third-degree felony. Six misdemeanor charges were dropped as part of a negotiated payment agreement.
Mercer County General Court of Appeals Judge Jeffrey Ingraham has ordered Adil Sabanagic to spend 30 days in Mercer County Jail, followed by 60 days of house arrest at his home in Utica, New York, with electronic monitoring.
Sabanagic must also pay a $2,500 fine and court costs. His driver’s license has been suspended for at least three years.
Ingraham noted that if Sabanagic does not comply with community censorship penalties, he could face up to 60 months in prison.
Atsushi Tanaka, Sydney, was killed in a 6:49 a.m. Jan. 6 crash at the intersection of State Route 29 and Harris Road, according to a news release from the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office.
A preliminary investigation found Tanaka was driving a Westbound 2021 Honda Accord on State Route 29 behind a 2016 Volvo truck driven by Sabanagic.
Sabanagic was reportedly slowing down or stopping in traffic to turn south onto Harris Road, but he missed his turn and started backing up his semi-trailer for the turn. The trailer closed part of the road.
The Honda Accord being driven by Tanaka hit the back of the semi-trailer before his car moved off the north side of the road, across a ditch, through a fence and into a puddle where it was submerged.
A diving team from the Selena Fire Department was called to assist in the rescue, but Tanaka was pronounced dead at the scene. The diving team had to pull the car out of the water to get to Tanaka because the high water pressure prevented team members from opening the car door, Sheriff Jeff Gray said.
On Friday, District Attorney Matt Fox requested a prison sentence.
Fox said Sabanagic lived a law-abiding life before the accident. As Fox understands, Sabanagic, due to the nature of the offense, will not be able to obtain insurance to drive trucks in the future.
However, because of the “terrible consequences in connection with Mr. Tanaka’s death due to the defendant’s action, some punishment or compensation is appropriate,” Fox said.
Fox noted that Ohio law recognizes the crime as a third-degree felony, which carries a significant potential prison term. Furthermore, the act Sabanagic committed was reckless, and not just an accident, Fox added.
Fox said that when Sabanagic on Jan. 6 missed the turn from State Route 29 to Harris Road, he chose not to drive further and turn at the next intersection or pull back to the berm to consult a map.
Instead, Fox said Sabanagic backed his truck, causing the trailer to close both lanes on Westbound 29 State Road, in the dark with poor lighting.
“All of these choices lead to this reckless act and the senseless death of Mr. Tanaka,” Fox said.
Friday’s actions necessitated the use of translators because the primary language in Sabanagic is Bosnian. Furthermore, Tanaka’s family members watched the event via Zoom from their home in Japan.
Court officials attempted to reach a foreign language interpreter by phone through the Ohio Supreme Court. With no Bosnian translators available, court officials, with the consent of a lawyer on both sides, resorted to using Sabanagic’s brother-in-law present in the lawsuit, Osman Delanovic, after being sworn in.
Reps for Selina’s Aluminum Precision Technology, where Tanaka was, helped with Friday’s hearing. A staff member, speaking on a mobile phone to the victim’s family members watching outside, translated into Japanese statements made in court.
Another reading of the victim influences the statements of Tanaka’s wife and her parents to the court.
Delanovic and the CAPT staff simultaneously participated in the translation as Sabanagic was addressing the Japanese audience on Zoom, expressing his remorse and apologies for the accident, the loss of life and the emotional impact on the family.
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