Saturday, July 11, 2015

Underage driver's dad in Council Rock South triple fatal pleads to manslaughter

Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2015

HONESDALE, Wayne County — As he left the Wayne County Courthouse, a New York father apologized for allowing his underage, unlicensed daughter to drive the day she was involved in an accident that killed three Council Rock High School South boys last year.
“Sorry. Very sorry,” Michael Ware, 54, of Scarsdale, said to reporters.
Ware pleaded guilty Thursday to three counts of involuntary manslaughter and three counts of reckless endangerment in connection with the Aug. 30 accident in Paupack Township near Lake Wallenpaupack.
Ware’s daughter Julia, four Bucks County teens and a 15-year-old girl went to breakfast that morning at a nearby barbecue restaurant and, on the return trip, Julia was speeding, failed to negotiate a turn, lost control of the vehicle and flipped it, according to court documents.
Shamus Digney, Cullen Keffer and Ryan Lesher, all 15 and from Northampton, were killed. A fourth boy, Ryan Keim, also 15 from Northampton, was injured, as was Julia Ware and the 15-year-old girl.
Julia Ware, now 16, of Pleasantville, New York, who was charged as a juvenile, also admitted guilt in the fatal accident. She received no jail time for the crash, instead she was sentenced to community service, restitution and indefinite probation. Her father, described as the “fun parent,” did not attend any of her court appearances; he and Julia’s mother have been divorced since Julia was 2.
Michael Ware headed out of court
Michael Ware faces a potential maximum prison sentence of 21 years and a $45,000 fine. He will be sentenced Aug. 20, and remains free on $100,000 unsecured bail.
In his appearance before the Wayne County Judge Raymond Hamill on Thursday, Ware made no comments other than to agree with prosecutors’ version of events — that Ware gave permission to his then-15-year-old daughter to drive his 2001 Chevrolet Suburban on the day of the accident.
Prosecutor Janine Edwards noted that Ware eventually admitted letting his daughter drive in the lakefront vacation resort community where he has a home. He initially denied giving her permission to drive to the restaurant.
Ware’s attorney Robert Reno, after the proceeding, said that he did not think his client would be sentenced to the maximum prison term.
“There is nothing satisfactory about this case,” Reno added.
Northampton resident Ed Lesher, whose son Ryan was one of the boys killed in the accident, agreed with that, but hopes Ware’s attorney is wrong about the sentencing.
“Hopefully we’ll get justice this time. Because we didn’t get it with the girl,” Lesher said. “I want to see the maximum.”
Lisa Lesher, Ryan’s mother, who sat teary-eyed in the front row of the gallery during the guilty plea, is hoping for closure.
“It’s so hard to go back to that day,” she said.
She added that the case demonstrates the reason Pennsylvania adopted stricter laws involving teen drivers.
“This is why, this is why,” she said.
Edwards said she was pleased that Michael Ware took responsibility for the crimes he was charged with. As part of his guilty plea, prosecutors will drop remaining charges against Ware including three more counts of reckless endangerment, and two felony counts of endangering the welfare of children.
“I am very happy we get to move forward for the families’ sake,” she said.

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