FORT WAYNE – About 6 a.m. Sept. 29, 44-year old Melissa Aschliman drove her Volkswagen Beetle on Bluffton Road, headed to catch a flight to California to visit her boyfriend.
At the same time, Kevin Nader, an underwater welder, was hurrying home to catch some sleep before heading back out to a birthday party for his father.
But the then-19-year-old was running on very little sleep, and sometime in the hours before he got behind the wheel of his Jeep Wrangler, Nader drank about nine beers and a bottle of rum.
When his Jeep crossed the centerline and slammed into Aschliman’s car, his blood-alcohol concentration was more than twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Nader was sentenced Friday to three years in prison.
He sat, hands cuffed in front of him, and wiped tears from his eyes as Aschliman’s family filed into the front row of the Allen Superior Court room.
In April, Nader pleaded guilty to causing death while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Additional charges of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater and reckless homicide were dismissed as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Allen Superior Judge Fran Gull sentenced Nader to five years in prison, but suspended two years and ordered that time served on probation. He must also pay about $9,900 in restitution to cover the cost of Aschliman’s funeral.
Before he learned his sentence, Nader’s attorneys, James Voyles of Indianapolis and Robert Gevers, told the court about their client’s remorse and character.
Voyles said Nader would do his time in the Department of Correction proudly, doing whatever the court and officials asked of him.
Aschliman’s family described her to the court – a loving and caring mother and friend, whose 17-year-old daughter was her pride and joy.
Her former husband wrote a letter to the court, which Deputy Prosecutor Adam Mildred read into the court’s record.
He described now how the teen will not have her mother to talk to as she enters the world and how Aschliman took care of her aging father, who is in poor health and a widower.
As they spoke, Nader could not bring his eyes up to meet them.
When it was his turn to speak, he struggled to contain his tears, and, amid expressions of sorrow for his actions, pledged to spend the rest of his life educating others about the dangers of drunken driving.
In a way, Nader said, it would honor Aschliman’s memory.