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W.Va. man charged in fatal crash on W.Va. 9

August 23, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

KEARNEYSVILLE, W.Va. - A Martinsburg, W.Va., man was charged with driving under the influence causing death after the Ford Explorer he was driving west on W.Va. 9 near Border Road crossed the center of the highway Monday evening and struck a Buick LeSabre, killing a passenger in the car, police said.

Douglas Chester Holden, 27, of Martinsburg, was released on $250,000 bond.

Killed in the crash was John L. Bennett, 58, of Emmitsburg, Md., said Sgt. Dave Colbert of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Bennett was riding in a car driven by his brother, Robert Bennett, which was headed east on W.Va. 9 about a quarter-mile west of Border Road, Colbert said.

Holden's Explorer, which was traveling west, went left of center and struck Bennett's car head-on about 5:47 p.m., Colbert said.

When police arrived, the Explorer was overturned in the highway and the LeSabre was off the north side of the road with heavy damage to its front, a criminal complaint filed in Jefferson County Magistrate Court said.


Deputy George Bradshaw IV said he saw a man walking around who identified himself as the driver of the Explorer.

Bradshaw said in the criminal complaint that he could detect an odor of alcohol and that the man was "swaying" while talking to him.

"The defendant did state that he had drank two beers and his cell phone rang. So he reached down to pick it up and the collision occurred," Bradshaw said in the complaint.

Holden was taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital and later released, and Robert Bennett was flown to Inova Fairfax (Va.) Hospital and later released, Colbert said. John Bennett was taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital, where he died, Bradshaw said.

W.Va. 9 was closed at the scene for about two hours while police and rescue crews worked, Colbert said.

Conviction on the charge of driving under the influence causing death carries a possible punishment of one to 10 years in jail.

West Virginia State Police have been putting extra troopers on local roads in the Eastern Panhandle to look for drunk drivers.

Through early next month, state police plan to have dozens of troopers throughout the area as part of "Operation Night Hawk" to crack down on drunk driving.

Authorities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Washington, D.C., also plan to participate.

The development of "Operation Night Hawk" comes after several drunk driving-related deaths in West Virginia around the Labor Day weekend last year, police said.

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