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Mentor Man Testifies At His Aggravated Vehicular Homicide Trial

Alexander Ochaba tells jurors that another car cut him off before the fatal crash

Alexander Ochaba testified Wednesday morning during his aggravated vehicular homicide trial.

Ochaba, 25, of Mentor, was driving his motorcycle when he lost control of it while driving east on Mentor Avenue in Willoughby near Andrews-Osborne Academy.

Both he and his motorcycle went off the road onto the sidewalk and his bike hit 76-year-old Sylvia Iwaszko in the back of her legs.

The impact threw her more than 80 feet and knocked one of her shoes across a 4-lane highway, Willoughby Police Lt. Blaine Sweitzer testified. Ochaba was also thrown more than 200 feet when his motorcycle hit the curb.

The crash happened on the evening of Aug. 23, 2011. Iwaszko died eight days later in MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

Sweitzer told jurors that Ochaba caused the crash because he was driving aggressively and quickly through medium to heavy traffic. Sweitzer said that Ochaba was driving at least 72 mph when he hit the curb and was thrown from the motorcycle that hit Iwaszko.

Sweitzer said there was no physical evidence Ochaba was trying to avoid another vehicle at the time of the crash.

However, Ochaba testified that a black sedan cut him off and he crashed when unsuccessfully tried to pull ahead of the car.

Ochaba also told jurors that he looked at his speedometer moments before the crash and he said we was only driving 41 mph.

Other witnesses had testified that Ochaba was driving quickly and often changing lanes during the stretch of Mentor Avenue between the intersection with Erie Street and where the crash occurred.

Ochaba acknowledged that he changed lanes a couple of times and revved his engine once, but he said that we wasn't driving recklessly.

Ochaba said he remembered two people shouting at him when he first came to after the crash. Assistant Lake County Prosecutor Mark Bartolotta questioned Ochaba on this point.

"You say you were driving cautiously, but two individuals shouted at you for the way your were driving," Bartolotta said.

"Yes," Ochaba replied.

Bartolotta also asked Ochaba about alcohol. A Willoughby firefighter had previously testified that Ochaba had said he had drank "one or two beers" at his brother's house before the crash.

While Ochaba admitted that he had drank earlier that day -- he said he had a mojito at about 3 p.m. -- he said he did not drink at his brother's house right before the crash.

Ochaba acknowledged that he might have said something to that effect but did not remember.

"I had a severe concussion," Ochaba said.

Bartolotta noted that Ochaba could remember the black sedan that he claimed tried to cut him off after the crash but not any references to alcohol.

"While you remember the 'black car' part, you don't remember the 'one or two beers,'" Bartolotta said.

Ochaba is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, reckless operation, operation without reasonable control and speeding.

Jury deliberation in the Ochaba trial begins Thursday morning.

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