Teen comes before judge in rollover death of friend
SHAMOKIN - A Shamokin teen charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence in connection with a June accident that killed his friend waived his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday before Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III.
Kyle Lynn Koontz, 19, of 130 S. Market St., was ordered to appear for plea court April 28 at Northumberland County Courthouse in Sunbury, where he can plead guilty or no contest, or seek a trial by pleading not guilty.
The defendant, who was represented by Attorney Trudy A. Marietta Mintz, of Mechanicsburg, remains free on $20,000 unsecured bail. Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini represented the commonwealth.
Both attorneys, who conferred with each other for several minutes before Koontz decided to forfeit his right to a preliminary hearing, declined comment when asked if the teen was going to accept a plea agreement when the case proceeds to the Court of Common Pleas.
Rosini had several witnesses available to testify Tuesday, but they were not needed since Koontz waived the charges. Friends and family members of Koontz and the victim, David W. Dorsett, 19, of Coal Township, also were in attendance.
Koontz, who turned himself in to authorities in January, is charged by Trooper Daniel Wilk of state police at Stonington with felony offenses of aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence and homicide by vehicle, misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, involuntary manslaughter and recklessly endangering another person, and summary violations of careless driving and reckless driving.
The fatality took place on Anthracite Road near Route 2044 in Zerbe Township shortly before 9 a.m. June 14, nine days after Koontz and Dorsett graduated from Shamokin Area High School.
Koontz told police he drank a couple of beers and smoked a small amount of marijuana about five hours before the crash near Trevorton.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Koontz was driving west in a 1998 Crown Victoria on Anthracite Road, a one-lane, dirt road readily accessible via Route 2044, while he and his friends were returning from camping in the mountains the night before.
Police said Koontz was speeding when he failed to negotiate a left turn and the car began to slide. Koontz counter-steered to try to regain control, but that action, police said, caused the car to slide back across the road.
Koontz told police he was trying to regain control when he "hit something hard," which threw the vehicle out of control.
The car went off the north side of the road and hit a ditch with its right front corner, causing it to spin clockwise and strike several small trees. Dorsett, sitting in the front passenger seat and not wearing a seat belt, was partially ejected at that point, police said. The car then went into a barrel roll and landed on its roof in the middle of the road, pinning Dorsett underneath.
He was pronounced dead at the scene by Northumberland County Coroner James Kelley. An autopsy determined the cause of death as craniocerebral injuries, which Kelley said were suffered in the rollover.
Koontz and the other passengers, Brett J. Case, 19, of Coal Township, a 17-year-old Shamokin male and a 16-year-old Coal Township male, crawled out through the car's windows.