The families of the two people who were killed in a 2009 car accident involving a taxi cab in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, got some closure late last week with the guilty plea of the driver who caused the crash.
The man pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide, two counts of involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence and other offenses. Police said he admitted after the crash to having four drinks before getting behind the wheel the night of the crash. He also said he was texting on his cell phone just before the collision, which happened when he drove into oncoming traffic and hit the taxi cab. The driver, a 34-year-old Harrisburg man, was killed, along with a 28-year-old female passenger. Her husband was also seriously injured.
The defendant's attorney didn't mention the fact that he had been texting behind the wheel in the plea agreement, and said it was irrelevant because at the time of the crash, texting while driving wasn't illegal. But it was this case that inspired a ban on using handheld phones behind the wheel. That Harrisburg ordinance was later superseded by a state law that specifically bans texting while driving.
The crash also led to civil lawsuits, at least one of which is still pending. One settlement of $500,000 has been approved for the killed and injured passengers. A large portion of that settlement, which includes no admissions of liability or negligence, was set to be paid on behalf of the company that owns the bar where the defendant was drinking before the crash. The couple's attorney is still pursuing a lawsuit seeking damages against the defendant.
Another suit for $550,000 on behalf of the cab driver has yet to be settled but is also expected to come largely from the bar's insurer. But those settlements don't compensate for the loss that the victims' families still feel acutely every day. "Especially for the kids because they will never know their dad," said the driver's fiancé. "That's a big loss for them."
Source: PennLive.com, "Andrew Denazza pleads guilty in 2009 crash that killed cab driver and passenger on the Market Street Bridge," Matt Miller, April 27, 2012