Former Miami student and varsity football player Zach Smierciak was recently dismissed from the university after pleading guilty to a charge of reckless assault.
Smierciak's conviction sprung from an incident on Nov. 8 of last year when he exited Brick Street while intoxicated and knocked over a ladder that was supporting Robert Null, Miami student and employee of Brick Street Bar. Null crashed headfirst to the ground and required emergency medical transport to McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital before being airlifted to University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
A brief moment on the helicopter is the only fragment of the night Null remembers.
"I woke up in the helicopter for a split second, as they were putting me into the helicopter, and then I passed out again immediately," said Null in an interview with The Miami Student. "I don't know if I was slipping in and out of consciousness. I don't even remember looking down at my body."
Null, a senior economics major, is back at Miami University after missing the remainder of the fall 2016 semester. Despite some memory fogginess, a doctor's order to stay away from physical activity and one other ailment, Null is back to his old self.
"My sense of smell is gone," said Null.
His doctor told him that his olfactory issues are due to the particular spot where his head impacted the concrete. To Null, though, things could be a lot worse. He is still working at Brick Street, but with more student managing responsibilities than the manual labor he did last semester.
In terms of his feelings toward Smierciak, Null wants to put what happened on Nov. 8 behind him.
"I'm not a confrontational kind of person. My opinion about it is kind of neutral. I'm not upset about it, I'm not happy about it. I just wish it had never happened in the first place," Null said. "It's just unfortunate really that both of us got put into a situation like this. But even if it was an accident, there still has to be some kind of consequences. I could have died."
Smierciak was sentenced on Jan. 10 by Judge Robert H. Lyons of the Butler County Area I court in Oxford. The sentence carried 180 days of jail time, a year of probation and fines and court costs totalling over $1000. However, 179 of the days were suspended by Judge Lyons, meaning that Smierciak will not have to serve them as long as he complies with the rest of the court's orders. The final day of jail time was credited to Smierciak for time already spent in custody.
Separate from the Butler County Area Court's sentencing, Smierciak went through a Miami University disciplinary process in which he was dismissed from the university through what are known as "1219" proceedings. Under these procedures, which are laid out in Ohio Revised Code Sections 3345.22 and 3345.23, Smierciak may not re-enroll to Miami University or enroll to any other Ohio-tax supported university for one year. Even after that year has elapsed, he will only be able to attend under disciplinary probation.
Though no longer a defensive lineman with the RedHawks football team, assistant athletic director Dave Meyer was able to confirm that Smierciak travelled with the team to the Dec. 26 St. Petersburg bowl in Florida.