Driver pleads not guilty to vehicular homicide

A man accused of vehicular homicide from a November 2015 fatal crash pleaded not guilty to six charges Monday.

Lloyd J. Eaton III, 22, entered his plea during a continuation of an initial arraignment from Friday.

Eaton was indicted last Thursday on two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count each of aggravated vehicular assault, vehicular assault, operating a vehicle under the influence of a listed controlled substance or a listed metabolite of a controlled substance and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse or a combination of them.

The charges stem from a crash on Nov. 27, 2015, at the entrance to Tractor Supply Company, 1637 E. U.S. Route 36.

On that date, Eaton was the driver of a 1998 Lincoln Mark VIII westbound on East U.S. Route 36. He was turning southbound into the drive of 1637 E. U.S. Route 36. As Eaton’s vehicle made its turn, it was struck by a 1998 Dodge Ram which had been traveling eastbound on East U.S. Route 36.

The collision caused Eaton’s vehicle to spin and strike a 2015 Toyota Rav4, which was stopped in the driveway of 1637 E. U.S. Route 36.

Tanya J. Morgan, 38, of Urbana, was a front seat passenger in Eaton’s vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tiffany Wilford, of Urbana, was a back seat passenger in Eaton’s vehicle and was extricated from the vehicle by the Urbana Fire Division before being flown to Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton, via CareFlight.

The grand jury indictment contends Eaton was operating the vehicle with a concentration of marijuana metabolite in his whole blood, blood serum or plasma.

On Monday, the court denied a request to modify Eaton’s bond which will remain at $26,000.

When the issue of bond was brought up, Champaign County Assistant Prosecutor Benjamin T. Hoskinson noted Eaton was serving a jail sentence from a Champaign County Municipal Court case when he was indicted.

According to the municipal court’s website, Eaton was ordered to serve 10 days in jail on April 28 after he pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana and leaving the scene of an accident stemming from a Jan. 2 incident.

A court statement filed in the municipal court about the Jan. 2 crash states Urbana Police responded to the 200 block of Henry Street in reference to a vehicle that had struck a parked vehicle and then took off. After police went to question Eaton about the crash, he stated he was just in a fatal accident and was scared when he hit the parked vehicle.

An officer noticed the smell of marijuana coming from Eaton’s person. Eaton admitted he smoked marijuana earlier that morning.

A scheduling conference in Eaton’s current case is scheduled for May 23.


By Nick Walton

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Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.

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