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Hagerstown man sentenced in fatal crash

May 24, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A Hagerstown man convicted of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence in a 2005 accident was sentenced Wednesday in Franklin County Court to three to six years in state prison.

Gameliel Eugenio Escobar-Mendez, 26, formerly of 521 W. Washington St., pleaded guilty May 14 to the charge, which carries a three-year mandatory minimum sentence. Judge John Walker gave him time served in Franklin County Prison from the date of the accident on Sept. 30, 2005, to Wednesday, a total of 19 months and three weeks.

Chambersburg police charged Escobar-Mendez in the death of his passenger, Manuel Gonzales, age unavailable, of Rosedale, Md. Police said Escobar-Mendez was driving a 1995 Chrysler LHS at high speed in the 600 block of Philadelphia Ave. when it struck a parked moving van.

The affidavit of probable cause stated that the car spun across the road after hitting the truck.

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A witness and her grandson narrowly escaped being hit.

Gonzales was flown to Altoona (Pa.) Hospital, where he died from his injuries, police said.

An hour after the 11:24 a.m. accident, Escobar-Mendez had his blood tested at Chambersburg Hospital, police said. His blood alcohol level was 0.251 percent, more than three times the legal limit for intoxication in Pennsylvania, according to the affidavit.

Police said Escobar-Mendez was driving on a suspended license and the car he was driving belonged to a Mercersburg, Pa., man but had a license plate for a vehicle belonging to a Greencastle, Pa., man.

District Attorney John F. Nelson said Escobar-Mendez is an illegal alien.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a detainer against him for his deportation once his sentence is served.

Escobar-Mendez was fined $500 by Walker and ordered to pay more than $17,000 in restitution, including $5,892 to the Altoona Regional Health System and $10,316 to Stat MedEvac for Gonzales' helicopter transportation, according to the sentencing sheet.

In exchange for his May 14 plea, charges of causing an accident involving death or injury, involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence were dismissed, court records stated.

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