|Shamus Digney, Cullen Keffer (c) & Ryan Lesher|
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Public might never know if charges are filed in Council Rock triple fatal crash
Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Will the 15-year-old girl from New York State be criminally charged in the deaths of three Council Rock teens after allegedly driving too fast on a winding road in the Pocono mountains and flipping her SUV nearly three months ago?
The public might never know, according to a Bucks County prosecutor.
Generally, if a juvenile is charged with a misdemeanor offense, the case proceeds in juvenile court, which is closed to the public, said Michele Walsh, chief of the juvenile division of the DA’s office. If that happens, the public has no right to any information including what charges or penalty the girl faces, Walsh said.
But, if the juvenile driver faces a charge that would be graded as a felony in adult court, limited information would be publicly available once she is adjudicated — the adult court equivalent of found guilty — since she is at least 14 years old.
Under those circumstances, the district attorney’s office where the crime occurred, must generate a form that allows the clerk of courts to provide the public with the juvenile’s name, address, charges and disposition — the equivalent of sentencing in adult court, under Pennsylvania law.
Some information would remain sealed, though, including police reports filed with the court. The juvenile court hearing would also be open to the public unless both the district attorney and the juvenile offender agree to close the proceedings.
As of this week, the Wayne County District Attorney’s Office is still reviewing the investigative reports prepared by the Pennsylvania State Police, according to Trooper Connie Devens, a spokeswoman for the barracks at Dunmore, which handled the investigation.
“We have nothing new to release at this time,” Devens added.
Wayne County DA Janine Edwards has not returned messages asking about the progress of the case and when, or if, charges might be filed against the driver, who lives in Pleasantville, New York. The newspaper is not releasing the name of the driver since no criminal charges have been announced.
After the accident, Edwards had said that the driver would be charged but that details would not be made public because of her age.
The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching the parents of Shamus Digney, Cullen Keffer and Ryan Lesher — the three 15-year-old Northampton boys who died in that Aug. 30 accident — for comment about the accident investigation.
The only available information about the investigation into the single vehicle accident — the state police accident report obtained by Calkins Media under the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law — states the driver’s “primary violation” was driving too fast for conditions. The report doesn’t mention that the girl had no driver’s license.
The report states that the accident happened in the 3000 block of Goose Pond Road near St. Mary Church Road and the resort community of Wallenpaupak Lake Estates in southern Wayne County. State police say the girl was driving her father’s 2001 Chevy Suburban without his permission.
Cullen Keffer and a fourth 15-year-old Council Rock student, who suffered major injuries, were not using seat belts, according to the police report. Ryan Lesher was, but it’s unknown if Shamus Digney was using a seat belt, according to the report.
The driver and a 15-year-old female passenger from Westchester, New York, were wearing lap and shoulder belts. Both were treated for moderate injuries, according to the report.