A Fulton County grand jury has indicted Ryan Lisabeth on vehicular homicide, driving under the influence of heroin and other charges in connection with an April 15 car wreck that killed a young boy in Northwest Atlanta and severely injured two others, District Attorney Paul Howard announced Tuesday.
The indictment says Lisabeth, who lives in Canton, was high on heroin and speeding on Joseph E. Boone Boulevard when his red 2009 Toyota Corolla struck the three boys. Nine-year-old Isaiah Ward died. His older brother, Roland, suffered a broken pelvis and broken leg. And their friend, 13-year-old Timothy Hood, is recovering from two skull fractures and a broken leg.
If convicted, Lisabeth could face 32 years behind bars, Howard said in a prepared statement. Isaiah and Roland’s mother, Michelle, said she would like to see Lisabeth, 28, go to prison for life without the possibility of parole.
“As far as how much time he is going to have — that is nothing,” she said of the possibility of a 32-year sentence. “My child is never going to come back.”
Lisabeth’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon. Her client’s next court date is set for July 19.
Lisabeth’s wreck happened amid a nationwide heroin epidemic. Last year, Fulton County led the state with 104 deaths tied to heroin or fentanyl. Less than three weeks before Isaiah’s death, President Barack Obama appeared at a summit in Atlanta to spotlight the epidemic. Tackling the deadly problem, he said, is one of his administration’s top priorities.
Arrests for drug-related offenses in Isaiah’s neighborhood and across the city fell substantially between 2014 and 2015 as authorities cracked down on dealers and demolished blighted houses, though some categories of heroin-related arrests rose slightly. Atlanta police don’t keep statistics on where the people they are arresting are from. But city residents and activists say many of those coming to buy drugs in their neighborhoods are outsiders.