SNYDERSVILLE — Two of the three drivers charged with causing automobile crashes that claimed four lives including two Pleasant Valley High School students and a graduate between September and January are heading to trial in Monroe County Court.
Snydersville Magisterial District Judge JoLana Krawitz on Monday found sufficient evidence to hold vehicular homicide charges against Fernando Marin, 40, of Effort, and Andrew Monahan, 19, of Kunkletown, for trial in county court. Marin and Monahan are both free on unsecured bail.
The third driver awaiting a preliminary hearing on vehicular homicide charges before Krawitz is Mary Diresse, 41, of Albrightsville. Diresse is charged also with driving under the influence.
On Sept. 16 at 10:19 p.m., Marin was involved in a two-car collision that killed Pleasant Valley High School student Jessica Dettrey, 17, of Effort, and driver Brian Drogalis, 21, of Stroudsburg, on Business Route 209 south of the Pocono View Motel in Hamilton Township.
On Oct. 27 at about 1 a.m., Monahan's car hit a tree on Business Route 209, south of Burger Hollow Road in Polk Township, and flipped, throwing him and three passengers from the vehicle. Pleasant Valley High School graduate Dylan Hurley, 19, of Jonas, died as a result.
Police said Marin's Honda was heading south on Route 209 when he crossed into the oncoming lane and collided head-on with Drogalis' Saturn.
"He either did it intentionally or lost control by allowing his vehicle to cross into the oncoming lane," state police investigator Doug Shook said.
Police said Drogalis was doing 54 mph in a 45 mph zone and county Coroner Dave Thomas said Drogalis and Dettrey were not wearing seat belts.
"We are not demeaning or denying that there was an accident resulting in the loss of lives or that there was negligence on Mr. Marin's part, but there is insufficient evidence that there was gross negligence," defense attorney Michael Ventrella said. "Gross negligence is an element required to prove homicide by vehicle.
"Gross negligence would be defined as being under the influence, speeding, erratic driving or disobeying traffic lanes, signs or signals, none of which apply to Mr. Marin at the time of the accident," Ventrella said.
Assistant District Attorney Jacob Jividen said the fact that Marin allowed his vehicle to cross into the oncoming lane is in itself gross negligence. The judge agreed.
"We're glad at the judge's decision and we know justice is going to be served, no matter how long it takes," Dettrey's mother, Sheila Vogel, said afterward, standing with Drogalis' mother, Dawn Drogalis. "We believe Marin is at fault."
Marin followed his attorney's advice and declined to comment.
Swetz pointed out that Monahan's blood test results found traces of Carboxy 9 THC, the inactive ingredient in marijuana, but no traces of Delta 9 THC, the active ingredient that produces the high. He also cited the fact that police found no alcohol in Monahan's system.
Monahan's Acura was heading south on two-lane Route 209 when he sped up behind David Jacoby's Camaro and then got beside it, apparently trying to pass, according to testimony. Jacoby said he sped up to 80 mph when it looked like Monahan was going to rear-end him, but said he didn't pull over to let Monahan pass.
Jacoby said he then slowed down when approaching a curve, at about which point Monahan passed him.
Monahan's car then swerved out of control, went into someone's yard, hit a tree and flipped several times, landing on its roof in a field, according to testimony. Hurley died as a result.
Monahan and Marin will be formally arraigned in county court. No dates have been set.
Diresse's hearing is scheduled for Monday, April 10, at 10 a.m.