WADSWORTH — A Cleveland man who was sentenced to jail time in Wadsworth Municipal Court fled the courthouse following his hearing and led police on a high-speed chase that resulted in a two-vehicle crash Wednesday morning, authorities said.
Cyrus A. Mathews, 19, was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 30 days suspended, for criminal damage and reckless operation, both misdemeanors. But instead of walking with bailiff Sharon Ray to be taken into custody, Mathews headed with his girlfriend to his car that was parked outside the courthouse.
“I walked into the parking lot and told him ‘You don’t want to do this. That’s a felony escape. Go back in and apologize,’” Ray said. “I tried talking to the girlfriend and said, ‘If you really love him, tell him he’s making a poor decision. They got in the car and left.’ ”
Wadsworth police said in a news release they were called to the courthouse at 10:55 a.m. and picked up the 1989 Buick LeSabre, driven by Mathews, traveling east on state Route 261 at a high rate of speed.
As Mathews headed under the Interstate 76 overpass, his vehicle collided with a 2018 Kia Sorento that was exiting Interstate 76 to head west on Route 261, the release said.
Mathews lost control of the vehicle, went off the left side of the roadway and struck a Speedway sign before coming to rest in the gas station parking lot at about 11:15 a.m., Sgt. Tim Dearmitt of the Ohio Highway Patrol’s Medina Post said.
The Kia, occupied by a mother, father and their 1-year-old child, were transported by Wadsworth EMS to Summa Wadsworth-Rittman Medical Center with nonlife-threatening injuries. Their names were not immediately available.
Mathews and his girlfriend, whose name was not available Wednesday evening, were trapped in the Buick and had to be extricated by Wadsworth rescue personnel. Dearmitt said they were transported to Akron General Hospital’s trauma center with serious injuries.
Charges against Mathews are pending review by the Medina County Prosecutor’s Office. Police said once he’s released from the hospital, Mathews must serve his sentence at the Medina County Jail that was imposed by Wadsworth Municipal Court Judge Stephen McIlvaine.
McIlvaine said Mathews’ original charges stemmed from a June 18 road-rage incident involving another driver on an interstate. McIlvaine said Mathews got aggressive with another driver after he was cut off in traffic, hit the side of the vehicle and ran it off the side of the road.
“There was confrontation (with Mathews and the other driver) afterwards and police said (Mathews) was very aggressive,” McIlvaine said. “He was acting very inappropriate.”
McIlvaine said part of Mathews’ sentence included probation at which time he would enroll in counseling and have a psychiatric evaluation conducted.
“The way he was acting at the scene of the original incident was causing me concerns and I wanted to check it out,” McIlvaine said.
“He asked if we could delay the jail sentence because he had a custody case coming up for his kids and I said no because of the seriousness of the case,” McIlvaine added. “I told him we would consider a furlough. Then he turned like he was going to walk with (Ray) but went through the swinging door and told his girlfriend ‘let’s go.’”
McIlvaine, who has been judge for 20 years, said he has never encountered an incident like this.
“We’ve never had any violence (or) never had anyone leave,” McIlvaine added. “If they’re upset, they will say something and we talk to them.”
McIlvaine said there was not a police officer at the courtroom during Mathews’ sentencing. In previous cases, if he believes the defendant could be violent during a sentencing hearing, McIlvaine said they will have an officer present. But McIlvaine said there wasn’t any indication of violence from Mathews, nor was the situation violent, he just “fled.”
“We’re usually able to de-escalate situations by explaining to them that it’s a poor choice,” Ray noted, who has been the bailiff for 10 years. “They could face a felony, resulting in prison and not jail. He hesitated but I thought he would be OK.”
Ray said authorities will review the surveillance footage and court procedures to evaluate the situation and determine whether the court should have an officer on hand during court hearings.
“It’s very unfortunate that (Mathews) made a decision that will permanently impact the rest of his life,” she said.
Route 261, between South Medina Line Road and the Interstate 76 ramps, was closed for about three hours while the crash scene was processed and debris was removed from the roadway, the news release said.
Norton Fire/EMS and police, the Medina County Sheriff’s Office and Wadsworth Towing crews provided assistance.
Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.