Driver sentenced in death of beloved West Side restaurant worker

Rickey York was on his way to the place where he worked for three decades when he was hit and killed on Elberon Avenue.
Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 5:19 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The driver who killed a man in East Price Hill in 2020 could spend the next six years behind bars after a Hamilton County Common Pleas judge sentenced him Tuesday.

The driver was high on cocaine and Fentanyl at the time of the crash, according to court documents.

Rickey York, 59, was a well known, long-time worker at Santorini’s restaurant in Cheviot. On May 9, 2020, he was hit at the intersection of Elberon and Phillips avenues while crossing to a bus stop to get to work.

York died at the scene.

The driver, 36-year-old Ronald Stafford, of Western Hills, was heading north on Elberon in a 2012 GMC Terrain. After the crash, he went off the right side of the road and hit a utility pole.

Stafford was treated at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and later released.

Court documents show Stafford had cocaine, Fentanyl , Norfentanyl and Benzodiazepines in his system at the time of the crash.

A crash expert determined Stafford was traveling between two and six miles over the 35 mph speed limit.

A Hamilton County grand jury indicted Stafford in October 2020 on two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of OVI.

After pleading not guilty in November 2020, Stafford pleaded down on Aug. 2 to one count of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count of OVI. State sentencing guidelines require a prison term of between two and eight years on the first count and three days on the second.

Stafford’s attorney wrote in a sentencing memorandum: “This case was a tragic accident, not a purposeful act on the part of Mr. Stafford, and he was cooperative after the accident; staying at the scene and volunteering both an interview with officers as well as a blood draw for testing. In the months following the crash, Mr. Stafford did not try to flee Cincinnati, and was surprised by his arrest.”

Common Pleas Judge Terry Nestor sentenced Stafford to between four and six years in prison, per our media partners at the Enquirer. Stafford also received a lifetime driving suspension.

York worked for 30 years at Santorini’s. He’s memorialized by a plaque in the restaurant that reads “Memories are a gift to treasure and ours of you will last forever.”

Doris Hall worked with York for 15 years. She spoke to FOX19 shortly after the crash, saying she had known York since birth.

“He would always sit right there,” Hall said pointing to a seat at the restaurant. “That’s where he would eat his lunch and dinner when he was working.”

Hall continued: “Everyday things still remind us of him. All the time. Every time a Michael Jackson song comes on, he would always sing, and every time those come on, we think about him... and little things.”