Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Bensalem woman facing DUI homicide charge in motorcycle crash
Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
While badly injured and trapped underneath a car, Brianna O’Driscoll said she heard the reaction of the driver who allegedly hit the motorcycle that she and her boyfriend were riding.
“Oh my God, I’m going to get another DUI,” Devon Crispo allegedly said.
That DUI charge was filed Wednesday against Crispo, 26, of Bensalem. She also faces charges of homicide by vehicle while DUI, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault by vehicle and other offenses in connection with the Sept. 19 accident in Bristol Township that killed John Chester, 37, and injured O’Driscoll, 19.
At her arraignment before Bristol District Judge Frank Peranteau Sr. on Wednesday, it was revealed that Crispo had been charged with driving under the influence in 2007 but completed a special probation program for first-time nonviolent offenders that expunged the arrest.
An open and unopened bottle of wine, a burnt marijuana cigar and “numerous pills not found to be prescribed to the defendant” were found in Crispo’s 2010 Honda Acura at the accident scene in the township, according to a probable cause affidavit. The prescription pills included suboxone, which is used to treat opiate addiction; the painkiller hydrocodone; clonazepam, which is used to treat panic disorder; and alpazolam, an anti-anxiety drug.
Crispo, who turned herself in to police Wednesday, was driving east on Neshaminy Road about 7:30 p.m. the night of the accident. She stopped at a stop sign, then attempted to turn left onto Newportville Road when she drove into the path of Chester and O’Driscoll, both of Bristol Township, who were traveling south on Newportville Road, police said.
Chester saw the car and attempted to avoid it by laying down his 1993 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, but he and O’Driscoll fell off the bike and slid under the car, where they were trapped. Rescue workers had to free them. Chester was pronounced dead at the scene.
O’Driscoll, who lives in the Red Cedar section of the township, is continuing to recover from her injuries, which include broken bones, third-degree burns, a concussion and road rash, according to police and James Chester, John Chester’s father.
Initially police detected alcohol on Crispo’s breath and found the open, half-empty bottle of wine in the backseat of her car, according to court records. Police said Crispo told them she drank three glasses of wine before the crash, smoked marijuana and took prescribed pain medication.
The night of the accident, Crispo’s blood-alcohol content was 0.11; the legal limit in Pennsylvania is 0.08. She tested positive for the presence of marijuana and painkillers, according to police.
In her brief court appearance before Peranteau, Crispo said that she has worked as a global resource planner for seven years. Her attorney, Ron Elgart, told the judge that his client lives with her mother and is willing to surrender her passport.
“Your Honor, she is not a flight risk,” Elgart said, adding that Crispo has cooperated with police.
Peranteau set bail at $1 million unsecured, meaning Crispo has to post the money only if she fails to appear in court or meet bail conditions.
After the hearing, Elgart said that the road where the accident occurred is among the most dangerous in Bucks County and a site of frequent, often fatal, accidents. “We’re going to have to take a real close look at that road again,’’ he added.
He also said that his client has had a “very difficult” time since the accident. “There is a three-year mandatory (prison sentence) here. That is a lot of pressure,” he said.
Chester’s relatives filled the courtroom gallery and, after the arraignment, said that John’s death has devastated the big family, which includes eight grandchildren, the newest born Sunday.
“There is a hole there, a big hole during the holidays,” Chester’s brother-in-law Allen Hibbert said.
John Chester, who lived in the Green Lynn section of Bristol Township, was the oldest of James and Sandi Chester’s three boys and the second oldest of their six children.
His father said that John joined the U.S. Army after high school and served 11 years in the military with stints in Panama and Guantanamo Bay, where he “babysat terrorists.” After he was discharged, John joined the U.S. National Guard, his father said.
His oldest son had his share of problems, but he had recently started a new job at as field maintenance worker for a local business.
“He was just getting back on his feet,” the father said.
James Chester said that, on the night of the accident, Chester and O’Driscoll were on their way to meet with him, but when he was two hours late — and not answering his cellphone — Chester found out about the accident. He drove to the scene and stayed there until the car was lifted off his son’s body, he said.
Sandi Chester said that she still has trouble talking about the loss of her son.
“I feel like my heart is gone,” she said. “It’s like an open wound that is ripped right open.”
Jo Ciavaglia: 215-949-4181; email: jciavaglia@phillyBurbs.com; Twitter: @jociavaglia;