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Man charged in 2018 fatal Turnpike crash

Published January 13. 2020 02:33PM

 

A Luzerne County man who was over twice the legal limit and driving the wrong way at the time of a three-car crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 2018 has been charged with homicide by vehicle.

According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by trooper Anthony Grobinski of the Pennsylvania State Police Pocono barracks:

At 11:54 p.m. Nov. 6, 2018, Grobinski responded to assist with the investigation of a reported three-vehicle crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension, Interstate 476, north in Parryville Borough.

Upon arrival, Grobinski observed a white Audi A4 against the concrete center barrier in the northbound left lane facing south.

The driver of the vehicle, Joseph Persico, 69, of Shavertown, was transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest before Grobinski’s arrival.

The crash occurred as the Audi A4 was traveling south in the northbound travel lanes of I-476, when it struck a green Honda Civic that was traveling north in the left lane head-on.

The Honda Civic then spun and struck a blue Toyota Corolla that was traveling north in the right lane a short distance behind it.

The driver of the Honda Civic, Paul Gerrity, 50, was pronounced dead at the scene by Carbon County Coroner Robert Miller Jr.

An autopsy conducted on Nov. 8, 2018, by a forensic pathologist determined that Gerrity died as the result of multiple blunt-force injuries sustained in the crash.

The operator of the Toyota Corolla, Pan Tso, was transported to the St. Luke’s hospital in Lehighton as a result of the injuries he sustained in the crash.

Tso gave police a disc containing video footage from a dash camera located in his vehicle.

Before the crash, a white Audi Sedan had been reported traveling south in the northbound lanes of travel at 10:48 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2018.

The vehicle was later seen traveling south in the northbound lanes of travel in the area of the Allentown Service Plaza.

E-ZPass records for the vehicle driven by Persico obtained via a search warrant indicated that the vehicle got off the Lehigh Valley Interchange at 11:02 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2018.

The vehicle then re-entered the Lehigh Valley Interchange at 11:28 p.m. and was involved in the fatal crash at 11:54 p.m.

Persico was transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest for treatment of injuries sustained in the crash.

On Nov. 7, 2018, hospital staff drew a blood sample from Persico.

Cpl. Matthew A. Hunter discovered a partially full 375-millileter bottle of Pinnacle Vodka in a brown paper bag on the passenger side floorboard of the white Audi A4 belonging to Persico.

Hunter discovered the bottle during his execution of a search warrant on Nov. 29, 2018.

Laboratory analysis results obtained via search warrant indicated that Persico had a 0.22 percent blood alcohol concentration at the time of the draw.

Persico faces charges of homicide by vehicle while driving under influence; aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence; aggravated assault by vehicle; homicide by vehicle; driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance; involuntary manslaughter; simple assault; recklessly endangering another person; careless driving; and reckless driving.

He is currently free in lieu of $150,000 unsecured bail, and is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing Jan. 29 before District Judge William Kissner of Palmerton.

 

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