Mayfield Heights man charged in traffic death

By Conner HowardTwinsburg Bulletin Published:

A 21-year-old Mayfield Heights man has been charged with aggravated vehicular homicide following the Feb. 2 death of Trailwood Drive resident Lester D. Mitchell along Interstate 480, after Mitchell had arrived to change a tire on his wife's vehicle.

Andrew Picha was charged Feb. 5 with one count of aggravated vehicular homicide, one count of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular manslaughter.

He has been bound over from Bedford Municipal Court to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, where a grand jury is looking at a possible indictment, according to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty's office.

Picha is being held in Cuyahoga County Jail on a $50,000 bond.

According to Warrensville Heights Director of Communications Ashley Gowens, Picha was traveling westbound on Interstate 480 in the area of Warrensville Heights at 3:22 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday. Picha's vehicle struck Mitchell, who had arrived to change a tire on his wife's vehicle on the side of the road, according to Warrensville Heights officials.

Mitchell was transported to MetroHealth Medical Center following the collision, where he was pronounced dead, according to Warrensville Heights officials.

Both vehicles were towed from the scene. According to representatives of the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's office, Mitchell's cause of death was determined to be blunt impacts to the neck, trunk and extremities. The death was deemed an accident.

Picha told police he was traveling about 63 mph in the 60 mph zone, according to a Warrensville Heights police report. Reports state his gray Ford Edge sport utility vehicle veered off the road, sideswiped Mitchell's wife's red Jaguar along the right shoulder of I-480 westbound and struck Mitchell. Police records state that Picha's vehicle continued to travel along the road before striking a guard rail and coming to a stop. Picha was carrying no passengers in his vehicle, according to police records.

The collision also caused major damage to both vehicles. Police arrived on the scene at 3:28 p.m. and cleared the scene at 8:59 p.m.

Police reports state Picha was given a blood test for alcohol and a blood test for drugs. The results of both tests were unknown at press time.

Mitchell was a retired former chief of police for Cleveland State University.

Email: choward@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9423

Twitter: @connerhowardRPC

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