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Wood County wife claims her husband's death improperly investigated

Meg Ramlow fights for justice in her husband's death Eric Ramlow was killed while bicycling in Bowling Green, Oh. (WNWO).
Meg Ramlow fights for justice in her husband's death Eric Ramlow was killed while bicycling in Bowling Green, Oh. (WNWO).
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TOLEDO, Oh. (WNWO) -- A Wood County woman is seeking justice for her husband, who she says was killed by a driver who admitted drinking just hours before. That driver got no jail time and walked away with a misdemeanor.

"He gave me a quick kiss he went out the door and he was gone forever," says Meg Ramlow.

It was the 10th anniversary of their very first date. Meg Ramlow and her husband Eric had plans to go to dinner that night to celebrate. An avid biker, Eric went on a bike ride that morning with his friend Ed Metzger.

Eric never made it home.

The pair were riding along Sand Ridge Road when authorities say 47-year-old Ernesto Villarreal hit Eric from behind.

“We had gone around a curve and I looked in my rearview mirror and I saw a car coming around that corner," says Metzger. "The next thing I remember is hearing a thump and looking over and seeing him flying through the air as his head hit the dashboard. He was hit full speed.”

“There were probably between 15 and 20 EMTs there," says Ramlow. "There was blood everywhere on the roadway.”

Eric was taken in life flight to Mercy St. Vincent’s Medical Center and died a few hours later.

His widow left wondering what caused the crash.

“What was it? Was it texting? Was he intoxicated?” she asked.

Those questions, still unanswered.

Villarreal admitted to deputies at the scene that he drank the night before and did not feel comfortable driving until that morning. Also at the scene were five beer bottles found in Villarreal’s car.

Despite this and Villarreal’s long list of prior offenses, including two OVIs, Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn and Wood County prosecutor Paul Dobson still say they did not have enough probable cause to test the driver for drugs or alcohol.

"We have to have probable cause and smelling of intoxicants, the slurred speech, the other indicators that deputies are trained to look for need to be there," says Sheriff Wasylyshyn. "Admitting the night before is not going to be enough to stand up in court."

“They were full bottles so there’s no probable cause to be gained from what he didn’t drink," says Dobson.

Dobson parsed through the evidence and says he found nothing to indicate Villarreal was reckless in the crash, and therefore did not pursue a felony charge.

"In order for me to prosecute as a felony, I have to be able to prove at a minimum that the driver was acting recklessly and caused the death while he did that," Dobson says.

Seven months after the crash, Ernesto Villarreal was charged on August 26th with vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter, and cited for assured clear distance. Both misdemeanors.

Adam Ramlow, one of Eric’s three sons, was first to arrive to the hospital the day of the crash. He says he does not feel like he has any closure for his father’s death.

“It's been seven months now, going on eight months and he just finally got charged and I don't even think after that we have our answers," says Ramlow. "I think we have some valid points that weren't addressed at the scene that would ease our worry if there were a test. Maybe he wasn't intoxicated but at least we have the test you prove that."

Villarreal plead not guilty for both charges at his arraignment last week. Both he and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Meg Ramlow says she will make a civil case against Villarreal after his criminal case is complete. She also plans on filing a complaint with the Wood County Sheriff’s office for negligence in handling the investigation.

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