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Impaired driver crashes truck into motel in Burlington, police say

BURLINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) — A man was arrested after crashing his truck into a motel room while driving impaired in Burlington, according to police.

At about 8:12 p.m. Sunday, police responded to a crash at the Econo Lodge at 2133 Hanford Road.

At the scene, officers found a Ford truck which had crashed into the building and came to a stop inside a motel room.

  • Truck crashes into motel in Burlington. (Courtesy of Burlington police)Truck crashes into motel in Burlington. (Courtesy of Burlington police)
  • Truck crashes into motel in Burlington. (Courtesy of Burlington police)Truck crashes into motel in Burlington. (Courtesy of Burlington police)
  • Truck crashes into motel in Burlington. (Courtesy of Burlington police)Truck crashes into motel in Burlington. (Courtesy of Burlington police)
  • Truck crashes into motel in Burlington. (Courtesy of Burlington police)Truck crashes into motel in Burlington. (Courtesy of Burlington police)

Truck crashes into motel in Burlington. (Courtesy of Burlington police)

The person in the room, 30-year-old Jairo Osorio Maldonado, said he heard the truck approaching and managed to avoid getting hit. He suffered minor injuries from debris.

Tony R. Strader, 49, of Burlington, was identified as the driver and arrested. He was charged with driving while impaired and felony hit-and-run.

Police estimate the damages at about $250,000 to the business. The truck is a total loss.

Mayor’s drunk driving charge upgraded to felony based on prior convictions

Kaley JohnsonMon, May 3, 2021, 4:11 PM·1 min read

A driving while intoxicated charge against the mayor of Granbury was upgraded to a third-degree felony on Monday.

Mayor Ninnian “Nin” Hulett, 68, was arrested April 25 following a traffic stop by Granbury police and booked into the Hood County Jail, Sheriff Roger Deeds said. Hulett was initially charged with a DWI class B misdemeanor.

On Monday, the charge was changed to a felony after Granbury police confirmed Hulett had previously been convicted twice before of driving while intoxicated, Granbury Deputy City Manager Michael Ross said.- ADVERTISEMENT -

Hulett was arrested on the upgraded charge on Monday, according to court records.

Hulett was previously arrested on a DWI charge in Fort Worth in November 2007, according to Tarrant County court records, which indicated that was his second offense. He was sentenced in April 2008 to 90 days in jail and two years of probation. It is not clear when or where Hulett’s first DWI conviction took place.

Hulett was first elected in 2013. His current term will expire in November 2022, according to the city’s website.

Guilty Plea In Fatal Crash, Driver Was On Prescription Drugs

LACEY – A Whiting man has pled guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs and hitting an oncoming car which resulted in the death of the driver.javascript:window[“$iceContent”]

  William Orr, 70, of Whiting, pled guilty on April 22 to Vehicular Homicide as well as and Driving Under the Influence in regards to a car accident in 2018 that killed the other driver involved.javascript:window[“$iceContent”]

  On September 28, 2018, Lacey Township Police responded to the area of Lacey regarding a motor vehicle crash. 

  After the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Lacey Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit performed an investigation, they found that Orr was traveling westbound on Lacey Road in a 2018 Hyundai Elantra when he crossed over the center line and struck a 2017 Nissan Sentra head-on, which was being driven by Elizabeth Patashinsky, 40, of Palm Bay, Florida.  

  Patashinsky was then transported to Community Medical Center, where she succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased. While the passenger in Patashinsky’s vehicle, William Muset, 66, of Whiting, was transported to Community Medical Center, treated for his injuries, and released. 

  Orr was treated at the scene for his injuries and no signs of impairment were exhibited at the scene. He was unable to perform any field sobriety tests due to a back injury which required him to use a cane for balance. Subsequently, Orr was brought to Community Medical Center and voluntarily consented to a draw of his blood.

 On October 29, 2018, Orr’s blood results revealed the presence of four medications which had been lawfully prescribed to him:  Alprazolam, Gabapentin, Oxycodone and Zolpidem. There was no alcohol or illegal narcotics detected in Orr’s system, however, forensic toxicologists nonetheless concluded that the combined psychoactive effects of those medications made Orr unfit to safely operate a motor vehicle.  

  Orr was arrested and charged on October 29, 2018 at his residence and transported to the Ocean County Jail, but released by the Court on November 2, 2018 as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.

  At the time of Orr’s sentencing on May 10, the State will be seeking a term of three years in New Jersey State Prison with a three-year-term of parole ineligibility.

  “But for the compassionate and forgiving nature of the victim’s family – and their unequivocal desire to achieve closure after this two-and-one-half yearlong nightmare – this plea agreement would never have even been contemplated by this Office, let alone approved,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer stated. “It is only by the grace of Ms. Patashinsky’s family that we agreed to a sentence that is significantly less than what would otherwise have been recommended to the Court. This defendant should consider himself very fortunate that the victim’s family – in a show of tremendous mercy – requested this case be resolved is this manner,” Prosecutor Billhimer added. “I wish to remind the public that impaired driving is not limited to being under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol. The combined effects of ingesting even prescription medications might very well have a deleterious impact upon one’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. I urge all motorists who use prescription medications to exercise extreme caution before they drive; failure to do so may produce deadly consequences, as this case so painfully demonstrates,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

  Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Michael Abatemarco who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Lacey Township Police Department, Stafford Township Police Department, Manchester Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation, ultimately resulting in the guilty plea.

Driver, 19, accused of being under the influence of drugs in Poway crash that killed father, 13-year-old son

Steve Pirolli, 54, with his arm around son Stephen Pirolli Jr., 13

A 19-year-old driver was jailed Tuesday, charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, in a crash that killed a father and teenage son as the pair left baseball practice at Poway High School earlier this year.

Donald Lee Farmer Jr. is also accused of driving under the influence of drugs causing injury and driving without a license, a misdemeanor, according to the complaint filed by prosecutors. The court document does not indicate what sort of drug.

Farmer was taken into custody and pleaded not guilty to the two felonies and misdemeanor charge during his arraignment in San Diego Superior Court. He was ordered jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail and is due back in court May 18 for a bail review. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The crash happened just after 7 p.m. Feb. 12 on Espola Road. Authorities said Steve Pirolli, 54, was making a left turn out of the school’s north parking lot when the driver’s side of his Toyota Camry was broadsided by a Mercedes.

Pirolli died at the scene. His son Stephen Pirolli Jr., 13, died at a hospital. The Mercedes driver, identified as Farmer, was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for undisclosed injuries.

Sheriff’s Capt. David Schaller said in a news release Tuesday that deputies assigned to the traffic unit at the department’s Poway station conducted “extensive reconstruction” of the crash.

“Based on their investigation, they determined Farmer was driving under the influence of drugs and had been driving recklessly,” Schaller said.

Police did not disclose any details about what investigators found, including the speed of the cars at impact.

The victims loved baseball, a family member said. Steve Pirolli played baseball at Southwestern College then at University of the Pacific in Stockton. He was working as an IT salesman.

His son, an eighth-grader at Rancho Bernardo Heights Middle School, played with a San Diego Crush baseball club team, and had hoped to play baseball in high school, college and maybe even professionally, said Tom Pirolli, brother of the elder man and uncle to the teen.

Man found guilty of homicide by vehicle while DUI in death of girlfriend

Todd Gracey, 53, of Manheim Township, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three to six years in prison when he’s sentenced on June 16.

A man who had a blood alcohol content more than three times the legal limit after he crashed head-on into a tree and killed his girlfriend in York County was found guilty on Friday of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and related crimes.

Todd Gracey, 53, of Manheim Township, lowered his head after the jury returned its verdict at 5 p.m. at the conclusion of the four-day trial in the York County Court of Common Pleas. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three to six years in prison.

On Oct. 1, 2017, Gracey lost control of his 2005 Chevrolet Silverado, drove up an embankment and crashed into a tree on Blooming Grove Road near Glenville Road in Codorus Township. He had been driving about 76 mph in a 45 mph zone, and testing revealed that his blood alcohol content was 0.243%, the Pennsylvania State Police said.

The legal limit for driving is 0.08% in Pennsylvania.

His girlfriend, Ambre Rheinhardt, 41, formerly of Weirton, West Virginia, was pronounced dead at the scene. He was seriously hurt in the wreck, and emergency medical services medevaced him to York Hospital.

READ:Man charged with homicide by vehicle while DUI in crash on Interstate 83 in York County

Todd Gracey, 53, of Manheim Township, was found guilty on Friday of homicide by vehicle and related crimes in the death of his girlfriend, Ambre Rheinhardt, on Oct. 1, 2017. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three to six years in prison.

In her closing argument, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Phoebe Yates stated that Gracey was driving under the influence and speeding.

Gracey had been drinking throughout the day, she noted, including earlier at a Baltimore Ravens game. He had a blood alcohol content that was more than the legal limit, lost control of the pickup and caused the death of his girlfriend, Yates said.

“It’s that simple,” Yates said. “It’s that straightforward.”

Yates acknowledged that prosecutors were asking the jury to make a serious and unpleasant decision.

But she said that jurors could not imagine or conjure up reasonable doubt to avoid fulfilling that duty. Yates told them to not get distracted by the defense’s “unreasonable theories.”

“He didn’t have a medical event,” said Yates, who tried the case with Deputy Prosecutor Virginia Hobbs. “He was conscious. He was awake.”

CHECK OUT:Man to serve 8 to 16 years in DUI crash that killed Iraq war veteran in York County

But Chris Ferro, Gracey’s attorney, argued that law enforcement exhibited willful blindness toward information that contradicted its pre-existing belief in the case.

For instance, Jimmie Valentine, an expert in clinical pharmacology, forensic toxicology, analytical chemistry and blood alcohol testing, testified on behalf of the defense about “possible alternative explanations” for the deadly crash.

Valentine stated that factors including trauma, blood loss and medical intervention can skew blood alcohol results and make them unreliable. Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.

Gracey, he noted, could’ve experienced a “medical event.” He told troopers that he had been feeling numb, tingly and sick before the wreck.

“They want you to disregard the possibilities, because it doesn’t fit into their final conclusions,” Ferro said. “They didn’t care. They didn’t listen. They didn’t look,” he added.

MORE:Man to serve 15 to 30 years for third-degree murder in double-fatal crash in York County

Besides the lead charge, the jury convicted Gracey of homicide by vehicle and two counts of DUI. Jurors acquitted him of recklessly endangering another person.

Later, Common Pleas Judge Amber Anstine Kraft found him guilty of seven traffic  offenses. She scheduled sentencing for June 16.

Gracey remains free on $30,000 unsecured bail, according to court records.