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Secane Woman Awaiting Trial For Fatal Drunk Driving Incident

24-year-old Nichole Labelle of Secane is awaiting trial for killing a young man while she was driving intoxicated in Philadelphia.

The incident took place two years ago in Upper Darby when Labelle was arrested one Tuesday night after she crashed her car. According to police, she had used prescription pills and was high on heroin at the time.

According to the police reports, Secane crashed her vehicle into an unoccupied car at about 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday. The incident took place on Westbrook Drive near Alverstone Road.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood gave details of the incident saying that Labelle was speaking in a lethargic manner. She also had only one shoe on at the time. She told the police that she allegedly got distracted which caused the crash.

Labelle was questioned by the police and she told them that she had taken two prescription pills, Adderall and Seroquel, and she also had a shot of heroin before she got behind the wheel of her car.

According to the authorities, Labelle has several problems.

Her previous record showed that at the time she was arrested for this incident, she was already out on bail awaiting trial for another driving under the influence incident that took place on July 15, 2012. She was facing homicide by vehicle charges after she killed 21-year-old George Kaminski of West Grove, Chester County in a midafternoon crash.

Labelle was travelling on Enterprise Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia when she crossed over the shoulder and crashed into a stopped tractor-trailer. Kaminski, who was a passenger in the truck suffered severe head and body trauma in the crash. He died two days later from the injuries he sustained in the accident.

She was arrested on charges of vehicular homicide and her bail was initially set at 10 percent of $350,000 in that case. However, it was later reduced to 10 percent of $50,000 which she posted in August.

The next pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for 17 December. A spokeswoman for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Tasha Jamerson, stated that new charges are most likely to be brought up against Labelle in the conference and a bail revocation may also be requested then.

Labelle faces several charges in the recent case, including DUI, careless driving and other related offenses. She is currently being held at Delaware County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bail.

News Source: Mobile.Philly.com

Haverford High School Football Coach Faces DUI Charge

58-year-old Joe Gallagher, a longtime football coach at Haverford High School in Delaware County, is going to need a good defensive coordinator after his recent DUI charge.

Gallagher was arrested on the suspicion of drunk driving after he allegedly fled the scene of a crash that took place in Prospect Park on Saturday. According to the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, he is also facing charges of reckless driving apart from the DUI charge.

Police reports confirm that Gallagher allegedly drove into another vehicle about 4 p.m. when he was at an intersection. After the crash, he fled the scene. However, no one was injured in the crash.

Gallagher was later pulled over by a Prospect Park Police Department officer who spotted his car as described by witnesses.

The officer found an open bottle of Piraat Belgian Ale in the car’s center cup holder. Gallagher also had a faint odor of alcohol on his breath and he told the officer that he “messed up.”

“I hit [the other driver] and should have stopped,” he told the officer.

According to Amanda Larsen, a spokeswoman for the Haverford Township School District, Gallagher has taken a leave of absence from his coaching position. The reason for his leave of absence is “personal reasons”.

During his absence, an assistant coach at Haverford High, Jack O’Donnell, will serve as the acting head coach.

News Source: Mobile.Philly.com

Fleeing DUI Driver Strikes Bicyclist And Parked Car In West Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA – A suspected drunk driver was taken in custody in West Philadelphia after he tried to flee and evade police officers. While he was attempting to flee, he hit a 22-year-old man riding a bicycle and also struck a parked car.

The incident took place on Saturday and started around 12:40 a.m. Police tried to stop a vehicle which was speeding and travelling in the wrong lane of a two-way street at 5500 Spruce Street. However, the driver completely ignored the police and struck a bicyclist. The incident took place in the 800 block of South 56th Street in Cobbs Creek.

The driver, who was thought to be driving while under the influence then continued to flee while officers pursued him. He hit a parked vehicle which caused the parked vehicle to strike another parked vehicle. The vehicle was parked along the 5000 block of Baltimore Avenue.

After the driver hit the parked vehicle, he tried to flee from the scene in foot. He was later found at his home by the police where he was arrested.

The bicyclist who was hit by the drunk driver sustained several injuries and was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He sustained injuries to his arms, legs and neck. However, he was listed to be in stable condition.

The drunk driver who tried to flee from the accident spots was expected to be charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, recklessly endangering another person and similar offenses. The identity of the 20-year-old driver was not immediately released by the police.

News Source: Philadelphia.CBSLocal.com

Drexel Hill Man Charged With Aggravated Assault After Slamming Into Three Vehicles While DUI

UPPER DARBY – A DUI crash that took place on Sunday resulted in a Drexel Hill man being charged with aggravated assault and related offenses.

According to police reports, the man was driving under the influence, seriously injured a 31-year-old woman and also slammed into three vehicles.

The offender, identified as 57-year-old Ronald Devuono of the 3800 block of Bonsall Avenue, was driving a bright orange 2014 Dodge Charger when he went for a Sunday drive through Drexel Hill area around 5 p.m. Police reports state that he allegedly had an open bottle of Don Perignon in the vehicle.

Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said that Devuono struck a parked 2014 Jeep Cherokee while driving in the area of Childs Avenue and Lasher Road. The incident caused significant damage to the Jeep and Devuono fled the scene at a high rate of speed. However, witnesses were able to note the license number of his car.

After fleeing from the scene, Devuono went in the area of Garrett Road and Congress Avenue where he smashed his car into a 1999 Toyota Corolla within five minutes of the first crash. The Corolla was being driven by a woman. She suffered serious injuries as a result of the collision and was admitted to Delaware County Memorial in serious condition with multiple fractures. After his car bounced off the Toyota, he then smashed into a 2004 Acura.

His vehicle then bounced onto the trolley racks before it came to a stop. Devuono then leaned out of his Charger to empty a bottle of Dom Perignon onto the ground according to witnesses.

“When police officers arrive, he can just about get out of the car. There was a strong odor of alcohol and he flunked field sobriety tests,” said Chitwood.

Devuono suffered several injuries in the crash. He was taken to Delaware County Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries and for blood tests.

Chitwood commented on the incident saying, “Here’s a guy who could have killed numerous people, not only in vehicles, but on the sidewalk. Fortunately, nobody got killed, but the woman he hit suffered significant injuries.”

Devuono faces several charges as a result of the incident including driving under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, reckless driving, careless driving, accident involving damage to unattended vehicle or property, failure to stop and render aid, reckless endangerment and related offenses.

He is being held in Delaware County prison on 10 percent of $25,000 bail.

Source: www.DelcoTimes.com

Drunk Driver Slams Into Two Vehicles And A Cruiser At Intersection

MONTGOMERY TWP., Pa. – A dash cam video has been released by the Montgomery Township officers of a drunk driving suspect who slammed into two vehicles on an intersection before crashing violently into a police cruiser.

The officer driving the cruiser was waiting at a red light when a car careened through the intersection, before crashing into the police cruiser and other vehicles.

Montgomery Township officers responded to reports of a vehicle collision and entrapment at an intersection according to the reporter.

The crash was recorded by the dash cam on the cruiser. Another vehicle was also struck by the drunk driver but it was not recorded on camera.

The driver of the vehicle was charged with DUI. There were no serious injuries from the accident and only one single minor injury was reported.

After the incident, the drunk driver showed little remorse after the accident. According to CBS Philadelphia, he reportedly told the police that he didn’t understand why those involved in the crash were upset.

Police Chief Scott Bendig said, “This could have been catastrophic. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.”

The dash cam video was released by the department to reinforce the dangers of drunk driving.

News Source: www.PoliceOne.com

Camden County police officer faces DWI charges in crash that toppled sign

A Camden County police officer has been charged with DWI after he allegedly drove a red pickup truck through three street signs on Friday 20 June, shortly before 2 am. The crash happened at Route 38 and Church Road. The officer was removed from street duty after the incident.

The officer, 21-year old William A. Grasso of Hammonton, N.J., is facing drunken driving charges. After driving through the three street signs, he struck a building and also knocked down a neon sign for Benash Liquors in Cherry Hill. He was charged with driving while intoxicated and reckless driving. Grasso was off-duty at the time.

According to police, it was not clear where Grasso was coming from at that time. Grasso was also removed from police duty after the crash. The Camden County police department’s internal affairs unit is investigating the crash.

Their police spokesman Mike Daniels said, “The officer has been taken off the street and relieved of police powers as the facts of this incident are ascertained.”

Daniels said that Grasso could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. It is not known if Grasso has an attorney or not.

An accident report filed by Cherry Hill police stated that Grasso’s truck hopped a curb in the traffic circle median. It then struck two road signs before going back onto the road and hopping another curb. The truck then plowed into another road sign before it finally rammed into the longtime liquor store sign. After that, the truck hit part of a brick retaining wall and finally stopped after hitting a tree.

Grasso suffered from head trauma after all the crashes and was also bleeding. He was taken to Kennedy Health System in Cherry Hill.

The liquor store sign in which Grasso crashed had been around since 1947. According to the co-owner of Benash Liquors, Rich Brooks , the sign was considered an area icon. It was known for its red and yellow arrow pointing toward the store’s door. “The guy pretty much destroyed it,” Brooks said.

Brooks took photos of the damage early Friday after he learnt about the crash. The snapped photos show the pickup’s windshield severely cracked and the front end nearly totaled.

Grasso’s blood sample was taken to check his BAC level, but his blood alcohol content level was not released by Cherry Hill police. According to the accident report, his blood test results were “pending.”

Grasso was nominated for officer of the week in September 2013 for his “outstanding police work” as is mentioned on the Camden County police website. He is the second member of the Camden County Police Department to be entangled with the authorities while off-duty.

Grasso is scheduled to appear in court next Wednesday.

News Source: Articles.Philly.com

Man charged with DUI after fatal motorcycle crash

UPPER DARBY – On Friday night, a fatal collision took place between a vehicle and a motorcycle at the intersection of Coverly and Marshall roads, which resulted in the death of a Lansdowne man.

47-year-old Gregory Hayes was pronounced dead at the accident scene at 11:12 p.m. He was of the 200 block of Braddock Road. Hayes is a Philadelphia School District police officer who was on his way to work the midnight shift. He was riding a motorcycle to work.

The suspect, identified as 30-year-old Salome A. Seay, of the 200 block of Coverly Road, in the Lansdowne post office section of Upper Darby was driving the vehicle that struck Hayes. He was arrested and charged with DUI and homicide by vehicle DUI related.

According to police Superintendent Michael Chitwood, “This is a tragedy that should never have happened.” It was later found out that Hayes was married and a father of two very young kids. He was wearing a helmet when the accident happened and had the right of way and did everything right.

“It looks like the defendant was trying to drag race with another motorist and when the light turned green he took off at a high rate of speed and just turned right in front of the guy on motorcycle. It’s just a tragedy,” said Chitwood.

Two witnesses present at the scene reported seeing the man driving a red Silverado pickup truck at an estimated speed of 65 to 75 mph before he cut off the motorcyclist.

Hayes was riding a Suzuki motorcycle and was traveling the eastbound direction on Marshall Road when Seay allegedly made a left turn which caused his motorcycle to broadside the passenger side of the truck.

When officers arrived at the scene, they detected an odor of alcohol on the driver. They took a BAC test and also a field sobriety test.

According to Chitwood, “He flunked every field test, the PBT (portable breath test) and field test and was taken to the hospital for blood testing.”

Seay was taken into custody and was arraigned on charges of DUI, homicide by vehicle,homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, aggravated assault while DUI, careless driving, improper left turn and reckless driving.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 16 before Magisterial District Judge Christopher Mattox. He was held in lieu of posting 10 percent of $100,000 bail pending his hearing.

News Source: www.DelcoTimes.com

Drunk driver accused of hitting and killing teen will not be charged

LEVITTOWN, Pa. – According to police reports, a driver accused of hitting and killing a teenager from Bucks County and injuring another one while driving under the influence of a prescription drug will not be charged. The driver was also under the influence of cocaine.

The victim’s family members say it is a miscarriage of justice.

The victim, identified as 15-year-old Zachary Gonzalez, was struck and killed along Route 13 while riding his bike with his friends. The incident took place 3 months ago, but police tape still marks the spot where the incident took place.

Since the DA’s office says that it cannot charge the suspect in the teen’s death, the grief of the victim’s family is turning into rage.

Sarah Hughes, the mother of the second victim injured in the crash said, “After two children went over your windshield that’s what you cared about? And the DA doesn’t think that’s enough evidence.”

The drunk driver allegedly struck her son Jeffrey, and his friend Gonzalez, as they rode their bikes along the stretch of Route 13 in Levittown in January.

Jeffrey is still struggling and dealing with the aftermath of the crash and has not given his statement on camera yet.

The offender, identified as 60-year old Brian Patterson, was driving under the influence of prescription drugs and cocaine when he hit the boys. According to the police, he don’t have enough evidence to prove that the drugs were the reason behind the crash.

Matt Hoover, Assistant District Attorney for Bucks County said, ” Multiple witnesses to the crash confirmed the victim entered the road way on his bicycle and the defendant did not have any time to react and avoid the crash.”

Patterson was located at his home by Fox 29, but he refused to talk about the crash. They also found that Patterson had a history of drug and DUI charges, which date back up to 15 years. Patterson has also pleaded guilty to driving while his operating privileges were suspended. This happened just a week before the January crash.

“He hit somebody and they’re no longer here. And he hurt my child and that’s not ok and I want to know why he’s not getting charged with that,” Hughes said.

If Patterson is convicted, he will face a mandatory 3-day jail sentence and up to one year in prison for each of the two drug possession charges.

News Source: www.MyFoxPhilly.com

Study reveals that drunk-driving deaths may be under-reported in U.S.

A new study carried out by researchers reveals that the role of alcohol in U.S. traffic deaths may be significantly under-reported.

The study used data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System which notes the blood alcohol levels of people killed in traffic accidents. They analyzed the data and compared it with data on death certificates from all the states and reported that more than 3 percent of death certificates listed alcohol as the contributing factor in fatal car crashes between the years 1999 and 2009. However, data provided by NHTSA showed that 21 percent of people who were killed in crashes were legally drunk. Results of their study were published in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

The researchers who carried out the study suggested that alcohol is often not included on death certificates as the cause of death because it can take a long time to actually get the blood-alcohol test results of the victim. When a person dies, the death certificate is usually filed within three to five days of the death. However, test results to determine blood alcohol level of the individual may take longer than that.

The study also revealed that some states are more likely to include alcohol on death certificates as the cause of death compared to other states. However, the reason for this variation is not clear.

The study also revealed that about half of the states require that drivers killed in traffic crashes be tested for blood-alcohol levels currently. However, only 70 percent of those drivers are tested nationwide.

The news release published by the researchers also identified that this type of information is important for several reasons, such as for assessing the impact of policies that are meant to reduce alcohol-related deaths.

According to Ralph Hingson, with the U.S. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, who was also the study leader, “You want to know how big the problem is, and if we can track it. Is it going up, or going down? And what policy measures are working?”

News Source: www.CBSNews.com

AAA survey reveals that fewer motorists consider DWI a ‘very serious’ safety problem

According to a recent survey conducted by AAA, fewer motorists in New Jersey today consider drunk driving to be a ‘very serious’ safety problem. The same survey conducted four years ago showed a different result.

A total of 1,000 random motorists from around the state were participants of the survey which was conducted in November. The survey asked respondents to rank the problem of DWI. They were given 4 options to choose from:

  • “very serious”
  • “somewhat serious”
  • “not very serious” and
  • “not serious at all”

In 2009, a total of 87 percent of the participants answered “very serious,” compared to only 81 percent of respondents this year.

According to Cathleen Lewis, a spokeswoman for the AAA Clubs of New Jersey, this relaxed attitude toward DWI is troubling because attitudes can reflect behavior. “I think if people start to see it as less serious, there is the possibility that people start to slip when it comes to engaging in the activity. They might be less likely to insist on a designated driver or they might have that second drink,” she said. “I think if people start to see it as less serious there is the possibility that people start to slip when it comes to engaging in the activity,” she added.

A broad driving-related survey is conducted by AAA around the state every other year as part of its bi-annual report to the legislature. This report covers the attitude and behavior of New Jersey motorists.

Results for this year’s survey were released last week which reported fewer drivers to be texting behind the wheel as compared to a survey conducted two years ago, in late 2011. The results were 27 percent this year and 33 percent for 2011.

Similarly, respondents were asked to rank the danger of driving while under the influence of prescription medication in the November survey, and the share of drivers who answered “very dangerous” fell to 61 percent.

The survey also broke down answers to questions according to the education level of the respondents. The motorist’s level of education level and their response shows an inverse relationship when it comes to responding to the dangers of driving while on prescription drugs. For example, figures show that 88 percent of respondents with high school degrees or less education said driving on prescription drugs was either “very serious” or “somewhat serious,” whereas only 5 percent said it was “not serious at all.”

On the other hand, 83 percents of respondents who had a college degree considered it “very serious” and 7 percent said it was not serious at all. Also, 78 percent of those respondents with a master’s degrees or higher, viewed driving on prescription drugs as very or somewhat serious, while 10 percent of these highly educated respondents found it not to be serious at all.

News Source: www.NJ.com

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