A Downingtown man who was drunk and under the influence of marijuana when he drove more than twice the speed limit and caused a head-on crash in Caernarvon Township will serve at least three years in prison.
The July 6, 2019, crash seriously injured a man and a 17-year-old girl, who were occupants of a Dodge pickup truck that was struck by Walker J. Michels’ speeding Volkswagen on Route 322 (Division Highway).
The man driving the truck sustained serious injuries to his right leg and foot. The female passenger sustained pelvic and leg injuries that will require treatment for at least the next decade.
Both appeared in Lancaster County Court Thursday for Michels’ sentencing hearing. Assistant District Attorney Ande Gonzalez said it is fortunate they were walk into the courtroom – they could have been killed in the crash.
Michels, 23, will serve 3 to 6 years in prison followed by four years of probation, Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely ordered.
Michels pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI and related misdemeanor and summary offenses, under an agreement arranged by ADA Gonzalez.
Michels blood-alcohol level was .129 percent following the crash, and his blood test results also showed THC in his system.
Following the crash, Michels told an emergency responder that he “loves drinking” and had several whiskey and vodka drinks before driving. Pennsylvania State Police found an empty bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey inside the Volkswagen.
Police determined the Volkswagen was traveling at least 85 mph when it failed to negotiate a turn in the 6200 block of Division Highway, where the speed limit is 35 mph.
Witnesses said the Volkswagen was speeding and passing vehicles (in a no-pass zone) prior to the collision.
About 90 minutes before the crash, Michels was cited for speeding in Lancaster city. The citation also was found inside the Volkswagen.
State Police trooper Joshua Whiteside led the investigation and filed charges.
As part of sentence, Michels must also pay over $423,000 in restitution.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrettHambright