DUI crash that injured boy earns 3 days in jail
Deepak Rijal was driving drunk on a North Side street when his SUV slammed into a tree and sent his 2-year-old son through the shattered front windshield.
The child survived the Dec. 3 crash with injuries limited to cuts on his head and neck.
Investigators determined that the boy had been sitting in the back seat on a booster seat designed for older children.
Rijal, 27, of Tacoma Road on the North Side, pleaded guilty in September to driving while intoxicated and child endangering.
On Tuesday, based on Rijal’s remorse and lack of a prior criminal record, a Franklin County judge sentenced him to three days in jail, placed him on probation for five years, suspended his driver’s license for three years and fined him $375.
If Rijal violates probation, he could be sent to prison for 11 months, Common Pleas Judge David Young said.
Rijal, a native of Bhutan, is not a U.S. citizen, and he was warned during his plea hearing that he also faces the possibility of deportation.
Young called Rijal “incredibly fortunate” that his son wasn’t injured more seriously.
Rijal was driving south on Walnut Creek Drive toward Stonehenge Drive when the vehicle went off the right side of the road and struck the tree, Assistant Prosecutor Donald Miller said.
The child was taken to Nationwide Children’s Hospital for treatment of cuts “too numerous to count,” according to a hospital report.
Rijal’s blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.19 percent, more than double the level at which a driver is considered impaired under Ohio law.
Defense attorney Paul Aucoin said his client has attended a three-day program for drunken-driving offenders and has obtained “an appropriate car seat” for his son.
“I’ll explain to him what a break he got today,” Aucoin said.
Rijal spoke briefly in court through a Nepali-language interpreter, telling the judge, “I never repeat in my life again.”