Driver in fatal accident pleads guilty to 3 counts
SUNBURY - The driver in a fatal accident in January 2013 that claimed the life of a Trevorton teenager pleaded guilty Monday in Northumberland County Court to three criminal counts.
Aaron W. Rothermel, 22, also of Trevorton, appeared before Judge Charles Saylor and pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle, driving under the influence of a controlled substance and recklessly endangering another person.
Other counts will be withdrawn: possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, a second count of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, involuntary manslaughter, a second count of recklessly endangering another person and five summary offenses.
A pre-sentencing investigation is under way, and a drug and alcohol assessment was ordered. Sentencing must be scheduled within 90 days.
Trooper Daniel Wilk, state police at Stonington, filed the charges Feb. 10. Rothermel was arrested and released on $25,000 unsecured bail.
Jared J. Wood, 18, a passenger in Rothermel's 1998 Nissan Sentra, was killed after the vehicle traveled off the shoulder of Schwaben Creek Road (Route 3010) near Leck Kill in Upper Mahanoy Township on Jan. 19, 2013, and struck a tree with its front passenger side, according to state police.
Wood died the next day at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville.
Rothermel and another passenger, a Trevorton male who was 17 years old at the time, escaped injury.
Police said none were wearing seat belts.
According to court documents, Wood was tossing objects, including a CD and a ball, at the house of an ex-girlfriend when the accident occurred. It's not certain if his head was outside a rear vehicle window at the time of impact.
Rothermel told police he looked down at the vehicle's radio and when he looked back up, he was driving directly into the tree and attempted to swerve. The vehicle was traveling at approximately 50 mph, according to police.
Rothermel admitted he was on probation for DUI and used marijuana two days before the accident, police said.