Man admits crash that killed Valpo area jogger
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent July 27, 2012 4:32PM
Updated: August 29, 2012 12:25PM
VALPARAISO — The Union Township man who hit and killed the brother-in-law of Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas has pleaded guilty to one of the charges against him.
Joseph R. Ruwaldt, 20, faces up to eight years in jail when sentenced Aug. 30 after Friday’s guilty plea to Class C felony operating a motor vehicle with a controlled substance or its metabolite in the person’s blood, causing the death of another person.
Ruwaldt could receive a prison sentence of up to eight years.
Police found marijuana metabolites in Ruwaldt’s blood shortly after the July 31, 2011, crash that killed R. Garry Bradley while he was jogging.
Tests showed 8.82 nanograms per liter of marijuana metabolites in Ruwaldt’s blood. He told police he’d fallen asleep at the wheel when he was driving east on County Road 100N. He told police he had just turned off County Road 500W on his way home after having fallen asleep at 2 a.m. elsewhere and waking up at 7 a.m.
Just after 7:30 a.m., his black GMC pickup left the road and hit Bradley.
Accident reconstruction experts estimated Ruwaldt was traveling 65 mph in a 35 mph zone when his truck veered off the north side of the road and was traveling at 52 mph when it hit Bradley, court files state. The truck carried Bradley on its hood for a while until he fell off near County Road 350W. Bradley was pronounced dead at the scene from injuries.
Ruwaldt told police he hadn’t been drinking and had smoked marijuana the day before about 2 p.m. Police found two marijuana cigarette butts in the truck’s ashtray.
As part of the plea agreement, the state will drop two other Class C felonies and five misdemeanors against Ruwaldt, and the prosecution and his attorney will argue his sentence Aug. 30.
Porter County Superior Court Judge William Alexa had revoked Ruwaldt’s bail Jan. 27 after he smoked synthetic marijuana. Alexa likened that to Ruwaldt using scotch after being told not to drink beer.