A Connellsville man was sentenced up to 22 years behind bars after pleading guilty to causing the crash that killed a Dunbar man last year.
On Tuesday, Jeffery R. Ranker, 53, pleaded guilty in Fayette County Court to third-degree murder, homicide by vehicle while DUI, homicide by vehicle, accidents involving death, DUI, recklessly endangering another person and other summary traffic citations.
District Attorney Rich Bower said the plea agreement was for 11 to 22 years of incarceration, with 8 to 16 years for the third-degree-murder charge and 3 to 6 years for the homicide-by-vehicle charge.
Police said Ranker was driving a Chevrolet Silverado while under the influence of multiple drugs when he hit John Anthony Canada of Dunbar as Canada was stopped in the turning lane at a red light at the intersection of University Drive and Industrial Park Drive at about 6 a.m. Oct. 10, 2018.
Canada was pronounced dead at the scene.
Bower said members of Canada’s family, who were in attendance on Tuesday, agreed with the plea. He read a victim impact statement on behalf of Canada’s family in court.
The statement read that Canada married his high-school sweetheart and had been with her for 50 years; together, they raised two girls—one who became a doctor and the other, a nurse—and was a grandfather of four grandchildren.
Canada’s son-in-law, Jaison Keeney, said in the statement that Ranker had no regard for the consequences of his actions, took the life of a hard-working man who loved being with his family. Keeney noted Canada’s grandchildren will miss all the lessons he could pass on to them, and he will miss all of the important moments in their lives.
“Our family is forever broken,” Bower read from Keeney’s statement.
Ranker expressed his sorrow for the Canada family, adding that he prays and thinks about the crash every day. He said he would trade placed with Canada if he could.
Kory Crowley, who said he’s Ranker’s future son-in-law, spoke on behalf of their family, extending sympathies to the Canada family.
He added that while a good man’s life was taken, Ranker is also a good man who will miss time with his family, too.
“I wish you knew him like the way I know him,” Crowley said, adding that the Ranker family is also hurting. “Don’t think of Jeff as a bad man, because he’s not.”
Following the hearing, Bower said Crowley’s statement to the Canada family was a travesty.
“He (Ranker) was the one who caused the harm to his own family,” Bower said, adding that Ranker was the one who ingested multiple drugs and killed a bystander with his truck.
President Judge John F. Wagner Jr. accepted the plea offer and sentenced Ranker to 11 to 22 years in a state correctional prison with credit for time served from March 19 to April 1 and also from May 8 to Tuesday.