Delay sought for Middletown woman in fatal church van crash with train

A new attorney has been hired to represent Judith Ashley, the Middletown woman behind the wheel in a deadly train-church van crash last summer, could mean her November trial will be delayed.

Ashley, 64, was the driver of a Church of Mayfield van on July 28, 2015, when it collided with a CSX train on 14th Avenue, killing 64-year-old Janice Martin and injuring nine children. A Butler County grand jury returned indictments in May against Ashley for endangering children and vehicular assault in addition to the aggravated vehicular homicide charge.

Frank Schiavone IV is now representing Ashley and filed for a trial continuance last month. In the motion Schiavone said he had recently been retained and has a conflict in his schedule for Nov. 2, which is when the trial is scheduled to begin in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

Judge Noah Powers had not ruled on the continuance motion as of early Monday.

Ashley told two Middletown paramedics at the scene that she had been "taking Vicodin and Adderall all day," according to the Ohio Highway Patrol's initial crash report.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said at Ashley’s arraignment that the vehicular homicide charge against Ashley rises to an aggravated or felony level due to questions of her sobriety at the time of the crash. He said she was also reckless because there was sufficient sight distance to see the train with lights flashing and gates down.

Ashley and Martin had been picking up children for an evening vacation Bible school at the church when the crash occurred.

Martin, of Middletown, died from blunt force trauma to the chest.

The nine children in the van, ages 4-10, were treated and released from Atrium Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, according to the church.

Ashley, who is the wife of church pastor Rev. Gary Ashley, suffered multiple injuries in the crash.