The husband of an Ohio schoolteacher, who was severely injured when four men dropped a rock on her car from a highway overpass, killed himself late Saturday night – and the prosecutor who jailed the rock-throwers blames them for Randy Budd’s suicide.
Budd, 55, was pronounced dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his Ohio residence, Harry Campbell, chief investigator for Ohio’s Stark County Coroner’s office, told the AP on Sunday.
“Randy Budd did not die from a gunshot,” Union County District Attorney D. Peter Johnson told pennlive.com. “He died when those kids threw a rock through his windshield.”
Johnson added: “They killed him like they killed her.”
Sharon Budd, who lives at the couple's Uniontown home, suffered catastrophic head injuries when a 5-pound rock dropped from an overpass crashed through the windshield of her family's moving car on Interstate 80 in central Pennsylvania in July 2014.
After his wife's accident, Randy Budd became an advocate for requiring fencing on overpasses. Earlier this year, the Budd family helped push through new rules in Ohio requiring any new or rehabbed bridges over most busy highways to be topped with chain-link fencing to deter vandals.
Fewer than three hours before he shot himself, Randy Budd texted State Senator Gene Yaw to “Please get the fence issue settled.”
Randy Budd said in January that his wife had seven major surgeries and lost part of her brain and one of her eyes. Because part of her brain was affected, he said she would require constant care at home for the rest of her life. Sharon cannot make her own food, take her medications or work a remote control, her daughter Kaylee Budd told pennlive.com in September.
“I kept thinking, this had to happen for a reason. Why would this happen?” Randy Budd said in January. “There has got to be something good to come out of this, and it happened. Now it's going to have an impact in Ohio for years and years to come, and somebody else won't have to go through what we're going through — or even death.”
Four young men – Brett and Dylan Lahr, Keefer McGee and Tyler Porter – were convicted and sentenced to prison sentences ranging from 11 ½ months to 4 ½ years in a case that attracted national attention.
Ohio transportation officials said it means at least 108 bridges or overpasses will get fencing 6 to 8 feet high in the next few years without significant added costs to the projects.
“The Budd family are all together and are grieving the loss of their dad, husband and brother,” a statement from the Budd family said. “We deeply appreciate the tremendous support our family has received from the Massillon, Canton and Hartville areas over the past several years. We ask for your prayers and some privacy as we deal with our loss.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.