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Woman sentenced to prison for drunk-driving crash that killed construction worker on I-71

Posted at 8:04 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 20:04:40-04

CLEVELAND — The woman who was found guilty of hitting and killing a construction worker and seriously injuring another while driving under the influence on Interstate 71 was sentenced to prison Wednesday, according to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office.

Sabra Tolliver, 33, of Lakewood, was sentenced to 10 to 12 years in prison for hitting and killing 61-year-old Rafael Solis and seriously injuring a 25-year-old construction worker in October 2019.

On Oct. 9, 2019, a construction crew was re-striping the highway on I-71 south near the Snow Road exit in Brook Park when Tolliver drove through the construction zone, striking Solis and the 25-year-old construction worker.

Tolliver dragged Solis under her vehicle for more than 1,200 feet before she came to a stop, according to the Prosecutor's Office. She then fled the scene, but one of Solis' coworkers who witnessed the incident followed her in his vehicle to a nearby restaurant and alerted police, who arrested her.

Solis was pronounced dead at the scene.

The 25-year-old construction worker who was struck suffered broken bones in his face, leg and shoulder and required staples in his head. He was transported to a nearby hospital after the crash.

During an investigation, authorities discovered Tolliver's blood alcohol concentration was over twice the legal limit.

After previously pleading not guilty to her charges, Tolliver later changed her plea to guilty on the following charges:

  • One count of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide
  • One count of Aggravated Vehicular Assault
  • One count of Failure To Stop After Accident
  • One count of Driving While Under the Influence

On Wednesday, Tolliver was sentenced to prison under "The Reagan Tokes Law" which "implements an indefinite sentencing system for non-life felonies of the first and second degree in which the judge imposes both a minimum term (from the current sentencing range) and a maximum term (that includes an additional 50% of the minimum term imposed)," according to the Prosecutor's Office.

Tolliver will have her case reviewed by the Ohio Department of Corrections after she has served 10 years to make the determination as to whether or not she should be released.

“This victim was working on his birthday to provide for his family,” said Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley in a press release. “He was tragically killed, and another victim was seriously injured, due to this individual’s selfish actions. Our thoughts remain with the victims’ families, friends, and coworkers.”

RELATED: Construction workers pack courtroom during arraignment of woman accused of killing one of their own

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