Two weeks after overdosing on heroin, the man charged in a Franklin hit-and-run accident that severely injured three people pleaded guilty and was sent to prison.
Will Slinger, 30, Franklin, was sentenced to four years in prison — the maximum prison sentence he could receive under state law — and three-and-a-half years on probation after pleading guilty to three counts of leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury.
The sentence brings some justice to the three people who suffered life-changing injuries in the accident, they said.
“For a while, he is going to be off the road,” said Grant Black, who is still undergoing weekly physical and occupational therapy sessions from his injuries in the crash.
“He’s hurt too many people too many times.”
Witnesses said Slinger’s vehicle was headed west on King Street and driving too fast when it hit a vehicle driven by Black from behind, forcing Black’s vehicle into oncoming traffic and into the path of Mary Anne Litwicki and her husband Mitch Wolhmuth.
Black had multiple injuries, including 16 fractured ribs, a broken fibula, a broken sternum and a shattered elbow. Wolhmuth was in a coma for more than a month and suffered a serious brain injury. Litwicki had a shattered wrist and compound fracture in her ankle and has since had two surgeries.
Slinger was arrested months later after police sought the public’s help in finding the vehicle from the crash. A tip from the public about surveillance video the police had released led investigators to Slinger.
Prosecutor Brad Cooper called Slinger a menace to society, citing his previous conviction for operating while intoxicated causing death in a 2005 accident that killed April Mulry, a young mother. Cooper said it was unfortunate that the maximum prison sentence Slinger could receive under the law was four years. Under the law, Slinger could only receive four years in prison because the crimes he was charged with are the lowest level felonies and were all related to the same incident, Cooper said.
“The victims in this case will never be the same,” he said.
During sentencing, Johnson County Superior Court 3 Judge Lance Hamner called Slinger’s actions reprehensible.
“As you go through the rest of your life and go to prison, I hope you remember what you have done to people,” Hamner said.
“You owe a debt to society that you can’t ever repay.”
Slinger decided to plead guilty after overdosing on heroin two weeks ago and being revived by police using Narcan, an overdose reversal drug, Cooper said. After that near-death experience, Slinger wanted to take responsibility and plead guilty and go to prison to get treatment for his addiction, Cooper said.
His sentence included assigning him to the prison’s purposeful incarceration program, which is a drug treatment program.
Slinger admitted to the facts of the case, including causing the crash and then leaving the scene in the Jan. 23, 2016, accident in Franklin, but said little else in the court hearing.
Litwicki spoke to the court before Slinger was sentenced about her and her husband’s injuries from the crash. Her husband, who is a dentist, received a traumatic brain injury that led to life-altering injuries. He was released from a treatment facility in July, and is still relearning to walk. Doctors have said his capability to relearn skills will plateau within the next few years, she said.
They were forced to give up their dental practice, and Litwicki is no longer able to work due to permanent injuries to her right arm.
“We lost our livelihood,” she said.
She was met with a hug from Brian Mulry, who was left a widower and single father after his wife was killed in the 2005 crash with Slinger.
Seeing Slinger be sentenced to prison was a sigh of relief, but also emotional, Mulry said.
“The pain and suffering will be with me throughout my life,” he said.
Mulry said he also wished the consequences could be more serious, especially for someone with previous offenses. Once again, Slinger’s actions have changed peoples’ lives forever, and he doesn’t appear to be remorseful, Mulry said.
“The maximum sentence is about all anyone could ask for. They got justice and can hopefully move forward and put it behind them as much as they can. But they never will fully. I know,” he said.