A Virginia man who was intoxicated when he crashed into a tow-emergency scene last year on Route 222, killing two men, was recently sentenced in Lancaster County Court.
Anthony W. Caldwell will serve 6 to 12 years in prison for veering across a fog line into a tow-truck operator, 44-year-old Ralph Watrous, and 46-year-old Robert Buckwalter, a driver receiving the tow.
Police determined Caldwell had a blood-alcohol content of .088 percent shortly after the Sept. 10, 2017, crash in West Earl Township. He had been drinking at a friend’s house prior to driving.
Caldwell, 31, recently pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide while DUI and related charges in an emotional sentencing hearing when relatives of both victims made statements.
Buckwalter’s wife and daughter both read from a victim-impact statement, expressing hope that Caldwell would use the tragedy to educate others on the danger of intoxicated driving.
“Mr. Caldwell took two lives that fateful night, but with his hopeful sobriety in telling his story, he may save more than that,” they read from the statement.
Buckwalter’s wife ended her statement by saying she will never forget what happened, but she is choosing to forgive.
Watrous’ brother and son expressed hope that the tragic crash would result in lives being spared in the future by those who, after hearing Mr. Caldwell’s case, would think twice about drinking and driving.
Caldwell apologized to the families.
Assistant District Attorney Trista Boyd said, outside of court, Caldwell’s blood-alcohol level was .088 percent – the legal limit for drivers is .08 percent – and as a result, took two lives.
Currently, the law in Pennsylvania requires drivers convicted of homicide by vehicle while DUI be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of three years in prison for each victim. District Attorney Stedman has been working with legislators, advocating for harsher penalties.
Boyd echoed the relatives’ wishes that the prison sentence would serve as a deterrent to those who drive after drinking, regardless of the amount of alcohol they consumed.
Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely accepted terms of the plea agreement and ordered sentence.
West Earl Township police investigated, with reconstruction assistance from Lancaster County Detective Gregory Wahl. West Earl Township police Chief Brian Brandt, a lead investigator, was in court for the sentencing.
In all, Caldwell pleaded guilty to:
- Vehicular homicide while DUI (two counts)
- Vehicular homicide (two counts)
- DUI (two counts)
- Accident involving death while not properly licensed (two counts)
- Five summary traffic violations, for passing the tow truck in an immediately adjacent lane (two counts), driving while not properly licensed, reckless driving, and a lane violation.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrettHambright