Coyle sentenced in fatal motorcycle crash

By Alexandra Newman -



SIDNEY — The case against the semitrailer driver involved in a fatal motorcycle crash a year ago last Sunday was closed on Friday in Shelby County Common Pleas Court.

John Alexander Coyle, 56, of Kokomo, Indiana, will now spend 60 days in jail, pay $1,500 in fines, and complete five years of community control for his part in the collision.

Coyle was originally indicted by a Shelby County grand jury last September on one count of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count of failure to stop after an accident, both third-degree felonies.

He was accused of failing to stop at a stop sign, on the afternoon of Aug. 7, 2015, while traveling east on Kirkwood Road at the intersection of County Road 25-A, causing a motorcycle, which was traveling north on County Road 25A, to hit at about the middle of the 53-foot trailer Coyle was driving.

The motorcyclist, who died at the scene, was 39-year-old Shawn Hill, of Piqua.

Coyle also failed to stop after the accident and was pulled over by Sidney Police in the 100 block of West Court Street in downtown Sidney. Initial reports indicated Coyle didn’t realize an accident had even occurred.

In June, Coyle entered a no contest plea to count two, and to count one amended to vehicular manslaughter, a second-degree misdemeanour, with a joint recommendation of community control.

In court Friday, when given the chance to make a statement Coyle simply said, “I’m sorry for what happened.”

His attorney H. Tim Merkle said Coyle is a stranger to criminal court. Noting Coyle hasn’t even had a traffic ticket.

“The reason we’re here today stems from a tragic accident with horrible consequences,” Merkle said. “There was no intent here. It was just a matter of timing.”

All parties, including the judge agreed there was no aggravation in the actual accident portion of the incident, but there were conflicting opinions on whether or not he intended to leave the scene after the collision occurred.

Tom Hill, Shawn’s father, spoke about his knowledge of semitrailers as a CDL trainer, and how his life will never be the same since losing his son.

“He would have felt something. Anyone would have looked if they felt something. He knew what happened and ran,” Hill said.

He then asked the court for the maximum possible sentence, and posed the questions, “What would you want if it happened to you?”

“A life can’t be replaced. You have to pay for the life you’ve taken,” Hill said.

In addition to his sentence, his license will be suspended for six months, and he was given 30 days credit for jail time he already served.

Judge James Stevenson said that without a trial it was hard to tell the facts of what really happened. But noted Coyle didn’t seek out to kill Shawn, but would have probably realized a collision had happened, and chose to leave the scene.

“The court also understands the anguish of the victim’s family. There’s nothing this court can do to possibly satisfy the family’s pain in this case. There’s no doubt in my mind this was a tragic accident,” Stevenson said.


By Alexandra Newman

Reach this writer at 937-538-4825.

Reach this writer at 937-538-4825.