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No charges to be filed in Pa. fatal crash

November 29, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - No charges will be filed against the driver of a vehicle that struck and killed a 10-year-old Lurgan Township boy in October, according to the Franklin County District Attorney's Office.

"We went in-depth on this as far as trying to determine if there was any indication of criminal responsibility," Assistant District Attorney Timothy Wilmot said Wednesday. In the end, he said, the Pennsylvania State Police and the district attorney's office concluded no criminal charges should be filed against Duane N. Newlin, 51, of Spring Run, Pa., in the Oct. 2 death of Johnny Lee Coons.

Coons, of 11387 Cumberland Highway, was killed as he was crossing the road in front of his house after getting the mail, according to police. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the 3:07 p.m. accident, police said.

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Wilmot said police focused on two areas in the investigation - the amount of prescribed medication Newlin had in his system at the time of the accident and the speed of the vehicle, a 1990 Chevrolet Lumina.

Tests of Newlin's blood showed that the amount of the prescribed medicine in his system was "below the typically prescribed dosage" and there was no evidence he was impaired by the medication, Wilmot said.

"We skid-tested the actual vehicle five times at the location," Wilmot said. "Based on that, we could not put his speed significantly above the speed limit."

Wilmot said he would not be able to show in court that the vehicle was traveling at a speed higher than the "low 60s," based on the test results. The speed limit where the accident happened is 55 mph, he said.

Newlin's car left skid marks in excess of 200 feet on the downhill slope at the time of the accident, Wilmot said.

Traffic coming from the other direction might have also impaired the ability of both Newlin and Coons to see each other, Wilmot said.

"It was basically an accident, and accidents do happen," he said.

"We're not happy with it, but there's nothing we can do," Coons' mother, Jeannie Barkman, said Thursday after meeting with Wilmot the day before.

Barkman said she was told the tests showed Newlin could have been traveling at speeds varying from 63 to 66 mph in one test, up to 67 to 78 mph in another.

"I guess it's time to move on now," she said.

Barkman said one of her neighbors has contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, asking it to lower the speed limit.

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