The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 30, 2012

Former teacher faces trial in crash that injured teenagers

By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — While three felony charges against a former teacher accused of mowing down five teens while driving drunk were dropped Thursday, Victor Swaboski faces trial on at least five criminal counts.

Swaboski, of Mount Carmel, who taught sixth-grade at Shamokin, appeared in Northumberland County Court on Thursday and was successful in getting three felony charges dismissed.

After nearly five hours of testimony from victims and several Mount Carmel police officers, Judge Charles Saylor informed Swaboski, 38, of 320 S. Beech St., that he would maintain numerous charges against him.

Saylor dropped aggravated assault by motor vehicle charges. Police said Swaboski drove drunk on March 28 and ran into Tyler Wondoloski, 19, Seanna Zimmerman, 14, Chelsea Troutman, 15, and Jarret Shultz, 17, all of Mount Carmel, and Andrew Campbell, 16, of Diamondtown.

Campbell and Zimmerman were flown by helicopter to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, while Wondoloski was taken by ambulance.

Swaboski, driving a 2004 Jeep Liberty, left the highway near the Mount Carmel Elementary School, struck the teens, fled while dragging a bicycle with him, then removed it from the undercarriage of his vehicle, police said.

Swaboski then ran into woods in Mount Carmel, where he was taken into custody a short time later with cans of beer next to him, police said.

Defense lawyer Arlen Day II, of Pottsville, asked Saylor to drop several charges, which included five counts of aggravated assault by a motor vehicle, because no one had serious bodily injury.

Saylor disagreed with throwing out all five. He agreed that three of the felony charges would be dismissed after testimony showed that three of the victims were not seriously injured.

Day argued that Swaboski did not try to flee from police, and that after they caught up with him, he was apprehended and did not try to run.

Hiding in a “bushy” area was enough to constitute avoiding apprehension, Saylor countered.

All five victims testified that the accident has caused them stress. Two said they have seen a psychologist.

Swaboski, who is free on bail, did not raise his head to look at any of the victims while they testified.

Saylor kept all other charges against Swaboski, which include the felonies of flight to avoid apprehension and  five counts of accidents involving death or personal injury. All misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and five counts of recklessly endangering another person and summaries of failure to provide information and render aid, reckless driving, failure to drive in a single lane and restrictions on alcoholic beverages were maintained.

Swaboski, who will now go to trail, refused comment after the hearing.