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Sentenced to five years in prison for accident that cost woman her legs


Plain Dealer staff Updated at 1:26 a.m. CLEVELAND — A drunken driver who smashed into a Strongsville woman, costing her both her legs, was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison. David Sides, 47, of Westlake, must also pay Andrea Grebe $500,000 in restitution. The sentence was the maximum for the offense of aggravated vehicular assault. Grebe's car broke down at a red light on Center Ridge Road in Westlake just before noon Dec. 4. As she went to her trunk for jumper cables, Sides' car smashed into hers from behind, pinning her between the two vehicles. Sides had a blood-alcohol level of 0.169 percent, or more than twice the state's 0.08 percent limit for drivers. Grebe, 46, had both legs amputated above the knee. She came to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday in an electric wheelchair and told Judge Nancy McDonnell that she relies on her two daughters, ages 26 and 21, to take care of her. Grebe and her family -- as well as Sides and his lawyer -- spoke as much about the dangers and consequences of drunken driving as they did about the case. "I just wish all those who drink and drive would realize how fast they can lose everything," Grebe said in court. Sides apologized for the pain he caused. He and his lawyer asked that alcohol treatment be part of his prison term. "I certainly don't deserve her forgiveness," Sides said of Grebe. "I hope people out there understand that you just can't test fate." Sides pleaded no contest on Feb. 23 to two charges of vehicular assault and two charges of driving under the influence. He has been in jail since the accident. His lawyer, Mark Stanton, told the court that Sides has twice been unable to complete alcohol rehabilitation programs and that drinking cost him his last job and damaged his marriage. Sides was convicted of drunken driving in 1987. Grebe's family and former co-workers from the Walgreens drugstore in Rocky River joined her in the courtroom. Sister Sherry Witt told the court that alcoholism was a part of their family and they understand it but that Sides and others need to know the dangers of drunken driving. Grebe spent three months at MetroHealth Medical Center before being released March 3. She wants to move to an apartment in North Royalton that has doors wide enough for her wheelchair to pass through. She sleeps in a bed in her living room and has to use a portable commode there because doors are too narrow. Her lawyer, Earl Ghaster, is pursuing a claim against Sides' insurance company. An aid account in her name has been set up through KeyBank.
Published: Wednesday, April 01, 2009, 1:42 PM  Updated: Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 9:11 AM

Cleveland Citizens Care

ROCKY RIVER — A woman walked into the Walgreens on Center Ridge Road on a recent Sunday night and handed a manager an envelope filled with 100 $100 bills to help a store worker seriously injured in a car crash days earlier. Then the woman slipped out of the store. No name, no fanfare, no tax break. Just a helping hand for a person in need. She was an older woman who didn't want to be noticed. She quietly asked a few simple questions:

How was Andrea Grebe, the 10-year store employee whose legs were amputated after a car accident a few days earlier?

Did she have insurance? What about her medical bills?
That's when the woman gave the store's assistant manager the envelope. Inside was $10,000 for Grebe, a woman police say was a victim in a drunken driving crash Dec. 4.

The gift came Dec. 7, three days after an accident forever changed the lives of Grebe and her two daughters. Nearly two weeks after the accident, Grebe remains in critical condition in MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

"The woman was concerned about Andrea's bills," said Jacqui Dyer, the Walgreens manager. "She wanted to do something to help her. It was pretty unusual that someone would have that kind of cash on a Sunday night."
The next day, Dyer deposited the money in a bank account for Grebe.

Police reports and interviews say Grebe, of Strongsville, left Walgreens about noon Dec. 4 for a doctor's appointment. A few miles away on Center Ridge Road, near Horseshoe Boulevard in Westlake, her 2000 Impala broke down in the left, westbound lane. She sought help, then got out to get some jumper cables in her trunk.Grebe was behind her car when a car driven by David Sides, 46, of Westlake hit her, pinning her legs between the cars, according to police. A police report said Sides did not see Grebe or her car.

He was charged with aggravated vehicular assault, drunken driving and operating a car with a blood-alcohol content of 0.169 percent, or more than twice the state's 0.08 percent limit.

Grebe's presence can be felt around the Walgreens store. Her picture and fliers about her condition are placed in the store. She worked in pricing and inventory accuracy, making friends easily with friends and co-workers.  "She never had anything bad to say of anyone," said Dyer, the Walgreens manager.

And the mystery woman? The store still has no clue who the woman was, and some may not care. They are just impressed that someone cared so much about Grebe.

People can contribute to a benevolent fund for Andrea Grebe at any branch of KeyBank.

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