The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Northumberland County

February 10, 2014

Trevorton driver charged in fatal accident

State police say pot was a factor

SUNBURY — A Trevorton driver, who police said had marijuana in his system when an 18-year old passenger was killed in a 50 mph crash, was arrested Monday and charged with homicide by vehicle and other counts stemming from the January 2013 accident.

Aaron W. Rothermel, 22, was charged Monday by state police at Stonington who said 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.

According to police, Rothermel was driving west on Schwaben Creek Road 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 and another passenger, a 17-year-old Trevorton boy, who was not identified by police, escaped injury, police said.

None of the occupants was wearing a seat belt, police said.

Rothermel told police he looked down at his radio and when he looked up he was heading toward a tree, court documents said.

Rothermel said he tried to avoid the tree, but slammed into it with the right side of the vehicle, court documents said.

After the impact Rothermel drove a short distance before realizing one of his passengers was injured, court documents said.

Rothermel also told police he smoked marijuana two days before the crash, police said.

Police interviewed the surviving passenger who said Rothermel told Wood and him to throw something at Rothermel’s ex-girlfriends house, police said.

A music CD and a ball were thrown out of the window at the home, police said.

After the passengers threw the objects, the 17-year-old told police he looked at his cellphone and looked up and saw the tree right before the crash, court documents said.

 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, police said. Rothermel pulled the vehicle over and neighbors came out to call for help, court documents said.

Rothermel is charged with homicide by vehicle, a felony, having a controlled substance, driving under the influence of a controlled substance, recklessly endangering another person, involuntary manslaughter and several traffic violations.

Rothermel, who voluntarily appeared before Sunbury District Judge Ben Apfelbaum, was released on $25,000 unsecured bail.

Rothermel is scheduled to appear at Apfelbaum’s office at 1 p.m. Feb. 18 for a preliminary hearing.

n Email comments to fscarcella@dailyitem.com.

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