A jury took just over three hours Wednesday night to find Lawrence Nastal guilty of three counts
vehicular homicide, all first-degree misdemeanors.
The original indictment was for aggravated vehicular homicide, third-degree felonies. He was found not
guilty of these charges.
He also was found guilty of the indicted charges of vehicular assault, both fourth-degree felonies.
Three additional charges of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault were
Nastal, 31, of Lincoln Park, Michigan, was accused of causing the Aug. 3, 2018 crash on Interstate 280,
just south of the Walbridge Road overpass near Millbury, that killed three people.
Lisa Balsizer, 54, and Callie Balsizer, 21, died at the scene. Carl Balsizer, 65, died 16 days later at a
hospital. All were of Gibsonburg.
“I expected those verdicts,” said defense attorney Scott Coon. “We believe he was negligent but not
“We expected the jury could find him guilty of the lesser charges.”
Coon said the aggravated vehicular homicide charge requires a decision that Nastal acted recklessly. He
also had to be found driving in a manner that displayed a willful disregard for the safety of others.
The lesser vehicular homicide charges requires a decision that he acted with negligence, Coon explained.
“And we had suggested if he was guilty of anything it was of negligence, not recklessness,” he said. “The
jury has decided he was acting recklessly while operating a motor vehicle and recklessly caused the
death of three people.”
Sentencing is set for May 14.
Nastal can be sentenced up to six months for each of the misdemeanor charges, but there is no presumption
of prison for the felony charges, Coon said.
Wood County Common Pleas Judge Joel Kuhlman had advised the jury that each count was separate and must be
In his closing argument Wednesday, Wood County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney David Romaker said Nastal
blamed everyone but himself for his actions.
He failed to perceive the risks and act appropriately, Romaker said.
Anthony Reino said Nastal’s semi-trailer first looked like a postage stamp in his rear-view mirror prior
to the impact which his Buick.
“That is important in judging the credibility of Mr. Nastal’s statement that he came on the vehicles so
fast he couldn’t do anything to stop,” Romaker said.
Romaker showed the damage to the vehicles struck by Nastal’s semi-trailer, the debris field and the tire
marks “from the last fateful moments of the Jeep.”
A witness said he was on that route because he made a wrong turn and he had no problem perceiving the
“They perceived the risk and they adjusted accordingly,” Romaker said. “The only person who magically
didn’t see the thing is the person with the most at stake.”
An Ohio Department of Transportation director said they were worried about a culvert and put up a
temporary work zone. Set up of concrete barriers was done the morning of Aug. 2.
Nastal had traveled through the zone the day before, Romaker said, and reminded the jury that one of the
crash victims could see traffic slowing from a quarter mile back.
Nastal had his cruise control on when he struck Reino’s Buick and pushed it into the rear of the Jeep.
“Control is important when you’re in charge o 70,000 pounds. Because if you’re reckless, people die,”
He showed a picture of the twisted metal that was left of the Jeep carrying the Balsizers.
Everyone else perceived the risk and used common sense, he said.
Coon countered with the argument that his client was negligent in the operation of his motor vehicle.
“He failed to perceive a risk that he should have perceived,” Coon said. “It was an accident. It was not
intentional. He didn’t set out that day to hurt anybody. An accident makes him human.”
Many accidents are caused by carelessness, which is not criminal, he said.
“Lives changed that day and that was Larry’s fault,” Coon said. “He knows what he did and he’s going to
have to live with that for the rest of his life.”
He showed jury instructions that indicate they must be firmly convinced that Nastal had heedless
indifference to the consequences of his actions in order to convict him of aggravated vehicular
Heedless indifference means he doesn’t care about the consequences of his conduct, Coon said.
“You must be firmly convinced that Larry just doesn’t care. … If you don’t find he acted with heedless
indifference, you must acquit him and find him not guilty of the three counts of aggravated vehicular
homicide and two counts of aggravated vehicular assault.”
Coon also questioned ODOT’s signage before the site of the crash.
There was supposed to be a flashing light one mile before the zone, but it didn’t go up until the week
after the crash. There also were signs missing prior to the “road work ahead” signs, Coon said.
Nastal is a cautious driver and had been through that area twice already that week and if he had
experienced slow traffic or backups, he would have remembered, Coon said.
Romaker, in rebuttal, told the jury to ask themselves how the defendant was the only one who didn’t see
the work signs or slowing traffic.
“He keeps telling you to believe he is the only one who never saw anything in that whole area,” Romaker
Nastal also took an unjustifiable risk by keeping his truck on cruise control as traffic slowed around
him, Romaker said.