ALBION — A judge decided on the maximum penalty for a LaGrange man who admitted to taking the life of West Noble High School coach and teacher Chuck Schlemmer last year.
Ryan Gravit, 46, was sentenced to 48 years in prison during a hearing Monday in Noble County Circuit Court. The term was ordered after Gravit pleaded guilty June 22 to a Level 3 felony count of leaving the scene after operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death and to a Level 4 felony count of OWI causing death. The Level 3 charge also carried a habitual offender designation.
Gravit admitted to the charges on his own, without entering into a plea deal with the Noble County Prosecutor’s Office. No deal had been offered, said chief deputy prosecuting attorney Adam Mildred.
“The defendant pled guilty without a plea agreement,” Mildred said Monday evening.
Gravit was accused of being intoxicated when the U-Haul van he was driving crashed into Schlemmer’s bicycle on River Road near C.R. 900 North on Aug. 16, 2019.
Schlemmer, who’d been out for a ride, damaged the van’s windshield during the impact. He was hospitalized in Fort Wayne and died five days later, after his family took him off life support.
Gravit drove away after striking Schlemmer. Police tracked him to Ligonier, where he was arrested.
Schlemmer’s wife and daughter, as well as four others, and four officers, testified during Monday’s sentencing hearing. Judge Michael Kramer also accepted 16 written statements that were submitted as victim impact letters, Mildred said.
Schlemmer taught social studies at West Noble for 24 years and had also coached cross country and track for 20 years. He retired from coaching in 2017 but continued to teach.
“Charles Schlemmer was an amazing man. Sadly, his contributions to Noble County ended with this case. Every person I came into contact with in this case that knew Mr. Schlemmer spoke highly of him and typically had a testimonial of some great thing he did for them,” Mildred said.
Mildred sought the maximum sentence for both charges on consecutive terms.
“The state requested that the sentences be run consecutive because the OWI causing death was completed before he then left the scene of the crash,” Mildred said.
Kramer agreed and ordered Gravit to serve 16 years in prison on the Level 3 count plus an additional 20 years for the habitual offender designation, and 12 years on the Level 4 count for a total 48 years.
“Results in complicated and serious cases like this one only come through the hard work and cooperation of our citizens and the many law enforcement agencies and emergency service providers that were involved in this case,” Mildred said.