The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

April 21, 2014

Trevorton man pleads guilty in vehicular homicide case

SUNBURY — The Trevorton driver responsible for the death of his passenger in a January 2013 accident pleaded guilty today to homicide by vehicle, a count of driving under the influence of a controlled substance and recklessly endangering another person.

As part of the plea deal, additional charges against Aaron W. Rothermel, 22, of possession of a controlled substance, a count of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, involuntary manslaughter and several traffic violations were dropped.

He appeared in plea court before Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor at approximately 2 p.m.

Northumberland County Chief Public Defender Edward Greco expects Rothermel to appear for sentencing within 90 days. In the meantime, Saylor ordered a pre-sentence investigation and a drug and alcohol assessment.

According to state police at Stonington, Rothermel was using marijuana when his 1998 Nissan Sentra slammed into a tree on Schwaben Creek Road in Upper Mahanoy Township on Jan. 19, 2013. The crash killed Jared Wood, 18, of Trevorton, a 2012 graduate of Line Mountain High School.

Rothermel was brief in his comments Monday, only responding yes to answers as Saylor asked whether he understood what was happening and whether he was entering the guilty plea on his own accord.

The homicide by vehicle charge has a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine; the DUI charge has a maximum of five years and $5,000; and the recklessly endangering has a maximum of two years and $5,000, Saylor told Rothermel.

Police said Rothermel was driving a 1998 Nissan Sentra west on Schwaben Creek Road (Route 3010) in the right lane when his car traveled off the westbound shoulder, struck a tree with its right front end and continued to travel west for a short distance before coming to rest off the road.

Rothermel, Wood and a 17-year-old passenger were throwing objects such as a musical CD and a ball at Rothermel’s ex-girlfriend’s house, police said.

Rothermel told police he looked down at his radio, and was unable to avoid hitting a tree with the right side of the vehicle when he looked back up.

After the impact, Rothermel drove away and the passenger said he looked back and saw Wood, who was sitting up straight, fall over onto his back in the rear seat. Rothermel pulled the vehicle over and neighbors came out to call for help, court documents said.

Wood later died from his injuries at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville.

Rothermel and the other teen, who was not identified, were not injured in the accident, police said.

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