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Monday, June 22, 2015
Bristol man who crashed into house won't be charged in woman's death
Posted: Monday, June 15, 2015
A 20-year-old Bristol man will not be charged in the death of a 93-year-old woman who died soon after he drove his pickup truck into a Bristol Township house in December, police said Monday.
Ronald Simmons, though, was charged Monday with risking a catastrophe, driving under the influence of marijuana and related offenses in connection with the Dec. 26 hit and run on the 60 block of Redbrook Lane in the Levittown section of the township. Simmons was not charged with the death of Jennie Russo, who died hours after the accident of natural causes, authorities said.
Police said Simmons’ pickup was traveling northeast on Rolling Lane when it left the road and struck a curb before plowing into the southwest part of the house and entering Russo’s bedroom. He then backed up the truck and left the scene, they added.
Russo, who was on hospice care, was asleep in her hospital bed about 5 feet from the wall that was struck, according to the affidavit.
She wasn’t struck by the pickup, which did push a dresser into her bed, and knocked religious statues from the walls, according to her son Ronald Russo. An autopsy later found that Russo died of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a thickening of the lungs, police said.
After striking the house, Simmons drove the truck about 66 feet across the front yard and hit a posted sign, before leaving the area, the affidavit notes. One of the truck’s steps broke off and became wedged in the dirt, the court records show, and several red paint chips and vehicle parts were left behind.
The truck parts, along with more paint chips, two lens covers, tinted plastic, a fender cover and a piece of red plastic molding found by Ronald Russo and his wife were instrumental in tracking down the truck and Simmons, the affidavit said.
Simmons’ truck was found parked in front of a home in the 500 block of Bath Street in neighboring Bristol. The damage to the vehicle matched the evidence at the scene of the crash, police said.
According to police, Simmons said he had looked down to grab a water bottle that had lodged under his brake pedal when he struck the curb. He said he couldn’t stop fast enough to avoid hitting the side of the house, court documents note. Simmons also told police he left the scene because he was “scared,” police said.
Blood tests results showed the presence of the active ingredients in marijuana, the court documents note.
Simmons was arraigned before District Judge Robert Wagner Jr. on three felonies — risking a catastrophe and two counts of criminal mischief — and misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence, accidents involving death or personal injury, recklessly endangering another person and related offenses. He was released on $750,000 unsecured bail. Reached on Monday, his attorney, Jason Rubinstein, described his client as a “good kid and hard worker who made a mistake.”