Man gets prison sentence for vehicular assault

MIAMI COUNTY — A 26-year-old man will spend the next seven to nine years in prison for the vehicular assault of a Piqua man last November.

In Miami County Common Pleas Court, Judge Stacy Wall sentenced Blake Curtis of Troy to a sentence of six to nine years in prison for one count of second-degree felony assault and 16 months for fourth-degree felony aggravated assault. She ordered the sentences to run consecutively for a total sentence of up to 10 years and four months of imprisonment. The minimum amount of time served will be seven years and four months. He is not eligible for early release. He will serve three years of post-release control. His license was suspended for 10 years. He also was ordered to pay $12,092 in restitution to the victims.

“This wasn’t just an alcohol issue. There was anger, there was rage,” Wall said before sentencing. Wall said Curtis’ actions “took (Gambill’s) life away.”

On Nov. 6, 2020, Piqua officers responded to the 1500 block of Nicklin Avenue around 11:30 p.m. after Matt Gambill, 51, of Piqua, was struck by Curtis’ Jeep following a disturbance. Gambill is the maternal grandfather of Curtis’s child.

Gambill was transported by CareFlight to Miami Valley Hospital with critical injuries. Gambill’s injuries included an aortic tear of the heart, five spinal fractures, seven broken ribs, multiple broken bones including traumatic injuries to his left leg and foot, and other internal injuries. According to statements made by Gambill’s family, Gambill may have to have a leg amputated from below the knee. Gambill’s wife Tara said her husband was an avid runner and he’ll never run another marathon. It is the family’s hope he’ll be able to walk on his own by the summer.

Curtis, who wept throughout the hearing, turned to the Gambill family and said, “I’m sorry. You guys are like family to me — I’m sorry.”

Curtis’s attorney Andrew Pratt said there was “no way to sugar coat” the case nor Curtis’s conduct that night. Pratt said Curtis was under the influence of alcohol before the incident. Pratt said Curtis admitted to having an alcohol problem, currently attends AA meetings, and sought in-patient treatment following the incident. Judge Wall noted while Curtis spent 45 days in a treatment center, he left against medical advice.

“He can’t undo what he’s done, he can only do better moving forward,” Pratt said.

Miami County Prosecutor Janna Parker deferred her time to Gambill’s family and Dave Boutwell, the second victim, who is a neighbor who came to Gambill’s aid. Parker said the family will “forever be fundamentally changed” by Curtis’s action that night.

Boutwell shared his account of that night as he heard the disturbance before the incident. Boutwell rushed to Gambill’s aid as he was pinned under Curtis’s Jeep. Boutwell also described the horror of Gambill being pinned under the Jeep as Curtis put the vehicle in park and jumped out of the vehicle to punch Gambill in the head several times before fleeing the scene.

“No words can describe what we went through that night,” Boutwell said. He said he will be haunted by the sound of Gambill’s bones breaking amid the chaos of the scene.

Gambill’s wife Tara recounted the events of Nov. 6 not knowing if her husband would live through the injuries he sustained.

“He tried to murder my husband,” she said. “We will never be the same … instead of training for another marathon this summer, he’ll be learning how to walk again.”

She thanked the Piqua Police Department for their assistance. She also said she hoped Curtis would be a “better person after this.”

“I pray for peace and I pray for justice,” she said.